Heart transplant for children

Experts in pediatric heart transplant understand the unique challenges of children undergoing surgery. Pediatric heart transplant

Mayo Clinic's pediatric heart transplant program is located at the Rochester, Minn., campus. The program evaluates pediatric patients from newborns to teenagers who may need advanced cardiac support or heart transplant.

At Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota, pediatricians and doctors trained in treating children with heart disease evaluate and treat children who may need heart transplants (pediatric cardiologists). Children needing hospitalization receive care at Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital, located within Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, in Rochester, Minnesota.

At Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona, doctors trained in heart diseases (cardiologists) partner with Phoenix Children's Hospital to treat teenagers and young adults with congenital heart disease.

Why choose Mayo Clinic for my child's heart transplant?

In some ways, the process for heart transplant in children — from newborn to adolescent — is similar to that for adults. But because children with heart disease face unique challenges, they will benefit from the extensive experience of Mayo Clinic pediatric heart transplant experts:

  • Pediatric transplant surgeons use specialized pediatric surgical techniques and understand how to make a transplant work for patients with complex congenital heart defects.
  • Pediatric cardiologists understand how a child's body processes the drugs needed to prevent complications.
  • A multidisciplinary pediatric team works with you and your child throughout the transplant process. This team includes dedicated pediatric heart surgeons, pharmacists, dietitians, physical therapists, clinical nurse specialists, physician assistants and nurses. It usually includes social workers, child-life specialists, chaplains and transplant financial coordinators as well.
  • If a child has a familial form of heart failure, there's a risk that others in the family may have the same thing. We can screen other family members, sometimes all in one day.

In addition, Mayo Clinic doctors have special expertise in treating children with congenital heart defects. And they partner with scientists to research genetics and new treatments for congenital heart disease, including hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Read more about research in the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

Nationally recognized expertise

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for heart and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Children's Hospitals for heart and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

Where will the new heart come from?

The transplant team evaluates your child to determine the most appropriate treatment for his or her heart condition, which may include a heart transplant or other heart surgery. If the team determines your child is eligible for a heart transplant, he or she will be placed on a waiting list for a donor heart.

Who will do the surgery?

Your child's surgery will be performed by a pediatric operating team, led by a pediatric cardiac surgeon.

What can I expect after my child's surgery?

How long your child stays in the hospital after surgery depends on his or her medical condition and recovery. The transplant team will monitor your child's recovery.

After your child has left the hospital, you and your child will need to stay near Rochester, Minnesota, for about three months so that doctors can monitor his or her recovery. Your child will have regular follow-up appointments to check for signs of rejection. After the transplant, a transplant coordinator who is a registered nurse will provide your child with continuing care.

The transplant team will work closely with your primary care doctor to coordinate care close to home once your child has completed your recovery period.

Most heart transplants in children are successful. Children with a new heart will need medicines for the rest of their life to help prevent complications. And they'll need to visit a doctor regularly to make sure the new heart is working properly.

Pediatric heart transplant care video, Dr. Johnson

April 27, 2021