Heart Transplant (Pediatric)

Heart transplantation is the process of replacing a child’s damaged or diseased heart with a healthier donor heart.

The Congenital Heart Center at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is home to Michigan’s leading children’s heart transplant programs.  We have performed more than 200 pediatric heart transplants since the program's beginning in 1984, consistently reporting low organ rejection rates and high patient survival rates that rank among the world's best.

Our dedicated, multidisciplinary team of pediatric cardiac transplant surgeons and transplant cardiologists provides coordinated and comprehensive evaluation, treatment and follow-up for children from newborn to 18 years old, and our active research program means our patients have access to the newest treatments available.

Reasons for heart transplantation

The two most common reasons a child may require a heart transplant are:

  • Congenital heart defect
  • Cardiomyopathy

Heart transplantation requires life-long care and is not a “cure.” With our extensive experience treating even the most complex congenital heart disorders, we aim to extend the life of a child’s heart, delaying the need for transplantation.  Our team also specializes in heart failure management therapies to avoid transplantation entirely, whenever possible.

Extending the life of your child’s heart

The heart failure specialists at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital have extensive experience prolonging life while a child waits for a viable donor heart. Management therapies can include:

  • Oral heart failure medications
  • Intravenous inotropes – medical therapy delivered through an IV to help the heart beat more strongly
  • Mechanical assistance devices – a number of mechanical circulatory support devices (such as a VAD) can be used to help the heart pump blood to the body. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital offers a number of these devices, including portable options that can be operated on batteries, allowing children to live and thrive at home while they wait for transplant.
  • Nutrition therapy is a key component of the Pediatric Heart Transplant Program, getting children nutritionally stable so they are ready for transplant sooner and to avoid complications following transplant. Formulas, vitamins and feeding tubes are some of the options our dedicated nutritionists use to get kids the nutrition they require.

The transplant journey

Evaluation for organ transplant and the process of being matched with a donor organ is a complex process. In addition, patients who have received an organ transplant require life-long medical management and specialized follow-up care.

Our team will work with you to help you understand every step of the transplant journey, and provide you access to a wide range of children’s heart transplant resources, guides and support programs.

Education and family involvement are very important to the success of our program. Education and support are provided before, during and after transplant for children and their families, utilizing our Child Life services and pediatric transplant psychologists, to ease anxiety, answer questions and help kids feel in control of their treatment plan. We also view each child and family as collaborating members of our team, which includes social workers, dietitians, transplant coordinators, nurse practitioners, physicians, surgeons, living donor advocates, financial coordinators, pharmacists and the clinical research team.

Transplant research and innovation

Research is an important component of the Congenital Heart Center’s and the University of Michigan Transplant Center’s respective missions.  Our faculty and staff participate in and – in some cases – lead cutting-edge, multi-center studies that will benefit both today's patients and transplant patients in the future.

We participate in a multi-center Pediatric Heart Transplant Society, dedicated to advancing the understanding and management of children who undergo heart transplantation.

Why choose C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for heart transplantation

  • C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital consistently has low organ rejection rates and high survival rates that rank among the world’s best.
  • Many transplant centers will turn down a child whose kidneys aren’t working optimally or who has liver disease. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital also offers world-class pediatric kidney and liver failure programs, and can perform combination transplants such as heart + kidney or heart + liver transplants.
  • Our Transplant Specialty Pharmacy has pharmacists and customer service staff specialized in transplant medications; dedicated solely to assisting our patients through their treatment process.
  • We participate in multiple organ transplant listings, which can sometimes shorten the amount of time a child has to wait before a viable heart becomes available for transplant.
  • The Michigan Medicine Transplant Center is the largest and most experienced transplant program in Michigan. Your child and your family will benefit from a broad range of expertise across the organ transplant continuum, as well as access to a large network of other families who have had similar transplant experiences.

Appointments & Information

To make an appointment with our heart transplant team, or to learn more about the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Congenital Heart Center, please call 734-764-5176.