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

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

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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