Stanford University: Four Decades of Saving Kids’ Hearts: Stanford Children’s Health Celebrates its 500th Pediatric Heart Transplant

Stanford Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its center, is celebrating its 500th pediatric heart transplant. The milestone has special significance since Stanford was the site of the first successful human heart transplant in the United States, performed by cardiothoracic surgeon Norman Shumway, MD, PhD, in 1968.

This holiday season, 14-year-old Mackenzie Collins, the 500th Stanford Children’s Health pediatric heart recipient, will be celebrating a healthy heart at home with her family. The teen patient was diagnosed earlier this year with dilated cardiomyopathy by cardiologists at the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center.

“It was a huge shock to us because she was always active, playing basketball, running cross country. She’s a very outdoorsy girl,” said Tiffany Collins, Mackenzie’s mother. “For her to be such a success as the 500th transplant, it’s such a miracle.”

“While it sounds strange that Mackenzie and her family were unaware of her heart failure, this is fairly common for teenagers with dilated cardiomyopathy,” said David Rosenthal, MD, director of the heart failure and heart transplant program at Stanford Children’s Health, also known as Pediatric Advanced Cardiac Therapies (PACT). “Mackenzie’s heart failure was already severe, so she was admitted into our PACT program.”

It took a multidisciplinary team of pediatric heart surgeons, transplant cardiologists, nurses, pediatric anesthesiologists, surgical technicians, transport, and transplant specialists to achieve the successful six-hour open-heart surgery transplant.

“Our culture has always been to work together, to bring about the best outcome we can for patients, and that to me is why this is such a phenomenal heart program,” said Dr. Rosenthal.

For nine straight years Stanford Children’s Health Pediatric Transplant Center has performed the highest volume of pediatric heart transplants in California, and has built a national reputation as a leader for pediatric single and multi-organ transplantation. This allows cardiologists and surgeons to take on the most difficult and complex cases, including many turned away by other centers, and continue to perfect heart transplant and ventricular assist device (VAD) procedures—thus offering young patients the best possible outcomes, one heartbeat at a time.

The 500th heart transplant milestone is an opportunity to celebrate Stanford’s long-standing commitment to pediatric heart transplantation.

“It is incredibly gratifying to have reached this achievement, and it constitutes an accomplishment that speaks to our longevity as well as our volumes and expertise,” said Dr. Rosenthal. “Reflecting on the children we’ve helped motivates us to continue providing the very best care to children with heart failure and advancing the field as well.”

Key facts
Heart transplant patients at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford benefit significantly from the long history of research and procedures conducted in partnership with the Stanford University School of Medicine:

1974: First pediatric heart transplant is performed in a teenager.
1981: Stanford surgeons perform nation’s first heart-lung transplant in children.
1984: Two-year-old Elizabeth Craze is the first small child to receive a heart transplant at Stanford.
2004: Camila Gonzalez becomes the youngest child in the United States to receive a donor’s heart while also retaining her original one.
2004: Five-month-old Miles Coulson is the youngest child to be placed on a Berlin Heart pump, enabling him to survive 55 days until a donor heart becomes available.
2006–2017: The Bingham children have their heart transplant journey: Three out of the five siblings receive new hearts.
2010: Researchers find using an inexpensive blood test to be a faster, less intrusive way to identify transplant recipients’ organ rejection before it impairs transplanted hearts.
2016: Oswaldo Jimenez is the first pediatric heart-lung transplant patient in the Western U.S. to undergo a “bridge-to-transplant” procedure that sustained both his heart and his lungs until transplant.
2018: Doctors pioneer the use of 3-D imaging software to match donor hearts with children awaiting heart transplant to help expand donors pool and reduce wait times.
2020: Stanford Children’s Health performed 24 heart transplants and implanted 18 ventricular assist devices, to extend patients’ lives until they receive a donor heart.

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