First heart transplant performed at Dell Children’s

Read more about the procedure and expanding pediatric cardiovascular program at Dell Children’s in this Austin American-Statesman article.

In a historic first for Dell Children’s Medical Center and the University of Texas at Austin, a team of pediatric heart transplant surgeons successfully implanted a donor heart in an 18-year-old patient. The Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, in partnership with UT Health Austin, the clinical practice of Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, is proud to announce the first solid organ transplant of any kind at Dell Children’s was performed on Oct. 3, 2020.

“This is a new era at Dell Children’s. Heart transplant is the first of many solid organ transplant procedures Dell Children’s will offer in the future as we continue to build a world-class program that expands the breadth and depth of our expertise to meet the needs of all pediatric patients in Central Texas and beyond,” said Dr. Charles Fraser, chief of Pediatric and Congenital Surgery for UT Health Austin’s Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children’s. “Giving the gift of organ or tissue is such a transformational gift, and this life-saving surgery would not have been possible without the generous and courageous family who chose to donate life.”

Heart transplantation was a lifesaving option for the patient who was in end-stage heart failure and suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. He also suffered from Ebstein’s anomaly, a rare congenital heart defect affecting the tricuspid valve on the right side of the heart. He was admitted to Dell Children’s in August, just weeks after Dell Children’s announced the new Heart Failure, VAD (Ventricular Assist Device) and Transplant Program.

“The pediatric heart transplant program would not be possible without the clinical partnership between Dell Children’s and UT Health Austin, which has allowed us to recruit clinical leaders for complex surgeries, research and education, bringing together highly specialized providers in a team-based system of care,” said Christopher M. Born, President of Dell Children’s. “This milestone at Dell Children’s is a testament to the dedicated transplant team that includes surgeons, pediatricians, anesthesiologists, transplant coordinators, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, therapists and psychologists, all leaders in this field.”

Dell Children’s heart transplant team is led by pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Charles Fraser, Dr. Carlos Mery, surgical director of the Heart Transplant Program, and Dr. Ziv Beckerman, pediatric heart surgeon. Dr. Chesney Castleberry, medical director of the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program, is the pediatric heart muscle disease specialist caring for the heart transplant recipient. The patient is recovering at Dell Children’s and is expected to be discharged in the coming weeks.

“Organ transplants are truly a lifeline, not just for those with heart problems,” said C. Martin Harris, M.D., Associate Vice President of the Health Enterprise for UT Health Austin and Dell Med. “This heart transplant is the start of a broader effort to bring superior outcomes for organ transplantation to treat multiple life-threatening and debilitating conditions. It’s exciting to build on the expertise of this team and, with the addition of UT Health Austin clinicians such as Dr. Nicole Turgeon leading our overall transplant services, to expand the types of conditions we can address for patients across Central Texas.”

“Through this partnership, our faculty clinicians were able to literally give an 18-year-old a second chance at life,” said UT President Jay Hartzell. “I am moved and deeply proud that the UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s team could make sure one more vibrant, brilliant, young person gets an opportunity to share his gifts with our state and society. It is also exciting to think about what this medical milestone means for the people of Central Texas who now have organ transplantation care right here in Austin, and for the whole Lone Star State.”

In 2018, the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children’s was established and is led by one of the world’s leading pediatric heart surgeons, Dr. Charles Fraser, Jr. This program includes the integration of clinical academics and research-driven initiatives through the exclusive partnership with Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin and UT Health Austin. As the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center in Central Texas, the capability of the Heart Transplant Program is enriched by Dell Children’s depth and breadth of expertise in numerous subspecialties. In July, Dell Children’s announced it had launched a Pediatric Heart Transplant Program. Dell Children’s first left ventricular assist device (LVAD) procedure was performed in September 2019.

We hope you are as excited as we are about the new heart transplant program at Dell Children’s. We invite you to learn more and consider making a gift today. Thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation all gifts to Dell Children’s to support our new heart transplant program will be matched through their $30 million matching grant.

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