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Children's Hospital Heart Center Performs Several Firsts in One Transplant Surgery

November 03, 2005

Youngest, smallest patient ever to receive heart transplant in the Pacific Northwest is also first infant to go from mechanical support to transplant; also second patient to receive heart of different blood type.

Youngest, smallest patient ever to receive heart transplant in the Pacific Northwest is also first infant to go from mechanical support to transplant; also second patient to receive heart of different blood type.

In an unprecedented series of history-making firsts for the Pacific Northwest and the western United States, heart surgeons at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. performed a heart transplant on a Redmond-area infant boy. He was:

  • The youngest patient to receive a heart transplant in the Pacific Northwest – 12 days old.
  • The smallest patient to receive a heart transplant in the Pacific Northwest – weighed 3.4 kg.
  • The first infant ever bridged to transplant on a heart-lung bypass machine (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO) in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The second ABO mismatched heart transplant (also known as ABO independent) done at Children’s and the second in the western United States. Children’s surgeons performed the first ABO mismatched heart transplant in June on a 6-month-old boy from Lynden, Wash.

An ABO mismatched transplant is a heart transplant in which the recipient’s blood type is different than the donor’s. It is performed on infants up to 12-months-old while their immune systems are still immature and have not yet produced the antibodies to attack a foreign tissue. Pioneered at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in the mid-1990s, more than 60 ABO mismatched transplants have been performed worldwide.

Children’s first ABO mismatched heart transplant was the 15th in the United States and the first one west of the Mississippi, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). ABO transplants in infants are necessitated by the lack of hearts with a suitable size or compatible blood type.

“We are fortunate to offer ABO mismatched heart transplantation to patients in the Pacific Northwest,” said Dr. Gordon Cohen, chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery and co-director of Children’s Heart Center. “The ability to transplant hearts of different blood types into infants will dramatically decrease wait times for donor hearts and save the lives of many children in our region who might otherwise die waiting for an organ of their same blood type.”

Cohen noted the exceptional collaboration between the Puget Sound Blood Center, Life Center Northwest, the families’ physicians and the Hospital for Sick Children that made these life-saving surgeries possible. “This collaboration allowed us to create new methods to process and test blood, and new protocols for treating and caring for a patient in this unique situation.”

According to Life Center Northwest, about 200 to 300 pediatric heart transplants are done nationwide each year. To become an organ donor, register your donation wishes in Washington state by putting organ donor or the red heart on your driver’s license. If you would like to register, simply visit www.livinglegacyregistry.org.

About Seattle Children’s

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

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