Comprehensive Heart Failure & Transplant Program for Children

Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health serves as the first and only comprehensive pediatric heart transplant program in Oklahoma. Children and their families from Oklahoma and surrounding areas can stay closer to home to receive care for heart failure, transplant surgery, post-operative care and follow-up care at the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health Heart Center in Oklahoma City.

Heart Transplant Services for Children

Heart transplant, or a cardiac transplantation, is a lifesaving procedure for children with end stage heart failure. Our Comprehensive Heart Failure & Transplant Program is one of the few minimally invasive pediatric heart transplant programs in the country. The program uses therapies and diagnostic testing proven to benefit patients with minimal number of medications and eliminating unnecessary testing.

Patients benefit from their OU Health multidisciplinary care team and their collaboration with the largest and most experienced transplant team, United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which manages the allocation of donor organs across the country to make the heart transplant process as efficient and effective as possible.

Pre-Transplant Preparation

The OU Health pediatric cardiovascular surgery team works with each patient and their family to create a custom care plan. Patients undergo a transplant evaluation to ensure a transplant is the best option. The following tests are included in the evaluation:

  • Blood tests – Checking for viruses and that other organs are functioning properly
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram (echo) – Uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to produce detailed images of heart structures and functions in motion
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) – Records the electrical activity of the heart to check for abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias) or abnormalities with heart structure
  • Cardiac catheterization – Used to diagnose certain heart conditions

The Comprehensive Heart Failure & Transplant Program for Children offers administration of intravenous (IV) medications, such as milrinone, at home while awaiting transplant. The program uses steroid free and induction (intense early postoperative immune suppression) free initiation protocols.

Mechanical Heart Health Assistance

Ventricular assist device (VAD) is a surgically implanted mechanical device that assists an unhealthy heart by helping pump blood for the patient. Ventricular assist devices can be placed to the left (LVAD), right (RVAD) or both (BiVAD) sides of the heart. The assistance from a VAD can be lifesaving in some circumstances where the patient’s heart function is significantly decreased. They can also improve overall health and quality of life short or long term mechanical circulatory support.

Oklahoma Children’s Hospital offers the following types of ventricular assist devices:

These devices save lives of thousands of children worldwide and are available at OU Health.

Call for More Information

Call Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health Heart Center in Oklahoma City
to learn more about your child’s condition and possible next steps for care.

Call (405) 271-4411

Conditions & Symptoms Linked with Heart Failure

Rely on the expertise and resources you’ll find in the Comprehensive Heart Failure & Transplant Program for Children. The most common conditions that may lead to the need for a heart transplant in infants and children younger than 18 years of age include:

  • Congenital heart disease (CHD) – The most common birth defect that occurs as the baby’s heart is being developed during pregnancy
  • Cardiomyopathy – Any disorder that affects the heart muscle is called cardiomyopathy

Other medical conditions can also be the cause of children developing heart defects or can be the reason for damage to a child’s heart that may require a heart transplant. Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure (CHF), occurs when the heart cannot pump or fill well to meet the needs of the body’s organs.

Symptoms can vary depending on the condition and age of the child, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the legs, tummy or around the eyes
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • Tiredness and rapid breathing when a baby is feeding
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty feeding, gaining weight or poor growth
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath during normal activities and exercise
  • Change is skin temperature and color (tendency to become cold and clammy, sweaty, flushed or warm)

Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Heart Center is the only pediatric heart transplant program in Oklahoma fulfilling the need for the state and region’s pediatric heart patients to receive care in their home state.

Care After a Heart Transplant

Children who have received a heart transplant need life-long follow-up care. OU Health offers specialized pediatric physicians, as well as:

  • Management of temporary pacing wires
  • Arrhythmia management
  • Intubations and ventilator management
  • Continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) - A type of dialysis
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – A form of life support that helps circulate blood to heart and lungs to provide oxygen to those organs
  • Cardiac physiology (study of heart function) in the children’s cardiac critical care unit.

Benefits of the Comprehensive Heart Failure & Transplant Program for Children include:

  • Non-invasive rejection monitoring strategies and biopsy when a non-invasive diagnostic test is more beneficial to the circumstance of a patient.
  • Allows patients to return home immediately following transplant based on their medical status and comfort level of the patient and family.
  • Provides direct access via a dedicated phone line for communication with the transplant providers at the convenience of the patient and their family.

Your Expert Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Team

At Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, your child will receive comprehensive heart care from expert and experienced pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, and advanced practice providers who use the latest in treatment protocols and advanced techniques as well as clinical trials that have resulted in medical breakthroughs in the field of pediatric cardiac care.
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