Research and Clinical Trials

Our patients get better care before, during and after they receive a new organ as a result of research from our Seattle Children’s Transplant Center team. The same doctors who care for children needing organ transplants also do research to find better ways of treating them. Our studies:

  • Help children stay healthy while waiting for an organ transplant
  • Uncover better ways to do surgery
  • Prevent children’s bodies from rejecting their new organ by finding better drug mixes
  • Reduce the need for transplants by better understanding what causes organs to fail

Much of our research focuses on a specific type of transplant:

International Partnerships Improve Treatments

Our doctors have leadership roles in national and international groups that set standards and find better ways to care for children who need transplants. Through these partnerships, we share our expertise and help improve pediatric transplant programs across the nation and the globe.

We also learn from their experience. Sharing information helps us know more quickly what works and what does not. Taking part in clinical trials with other transplant centers means we can offer our patients new treatments sooner.

Healthier Life after Transplant

Better immune system treatments

Finding better immune system treatments to keep children healthy after a transplant is a top research priority for us. We work to prevent a child’s body from rejecting their new organ while keeping their immune system strong enough to fight infection and cancer. This is called immunosuppression.

The right drug mixtures

Research has led to today’s drug mixtures that minimize the use of steroids. We keep fine-tuning the mixes of medicines to find the best result with the fewest side effects.

Medicine schedules

Managing an anti-rejection medicine schedule can be difficult. Patients may need to take 60 pills a day.

We are testing ways to help teens take their medicine – using a high-tech pill box that can send text messages. Dr. Jodi Smith, medical director of kidney transplant, is leading Seattle Children’s effort in the TAKE-IT study.

Caring for a Six-State Region

Successful care at home

Seattle Children’s serves a six-state region – the largest in the country. Many of our patients return to distant homes. Our experience and research helps us create care plans that give families clear information to successfully care for their child at home.

Shorter wait times for an organ

Our large region’s small population means fewer potential donors. To meet the challenge, our doctors use newer techniques like transplanting organs from non-matched donors and from living donors.

We also modify adult organs to fit children who need them. Past research has helped us hone these techniques. They help us shorten wait times for children who need transplants.

Participate in Research

Transplanting organs in children is a relatively new field and is always changing. Doing research helps us improve how we care for patients. We couldn’t do it without families who take part in research studies.

Whether you participate is entirely up to you. Much of our research involves sharing information about our patients’ illnesses and treatments with other centers. We strictly protect our patients’ identities.

In clinical trials, we compare promising new treatments to standard care. Research with children is important because many medicines and treatments today are based on what works for adults. Learn about participating in transplant research.