UF Health Shands Hospital has surpassed all pediatric heart transplant programs in the nation with zero deaths over a two and a half year period, according to a report released in January by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR), a database that analyzes and evaluates organ transplantation programs across the nation.
According to SRTR’s January 2017 Program-Specific Report, a document that is released biannually to evaluate 58 organ transplant centers over a 30-month period, 31 pediatric patients under age 18 received heart transplants between July 1, 2013 and December 31, 2015 at UF Health Shands Hospital. All of them survived their first year after transplant. Since 2006, surgeons at the UF Health Shands Transplant Center have performed a total of 120 pediatric heart transplants and heart-lung transplants, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. As a result, UF Health is one of the two most active programs in the southeastern United States for pediatric heart transplants.
“Over the past 10 years, we have climbed in the national rankings because of our success in the medical and surgical management of children with congenital heart defects, including patients in need of pediatric heart transplantation. This past year alone, we were ranked No. 1 in the state of Florida and No. 24 in the nation for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report,” said Mark Bleiweis, M.D., the director of the UF Health Congenital Heart Center and the chief of congenital cardiothoracic surgery.
“One of the predominant reasons why UF Health Shands Hospital continues to excel in patient survival is because of our outstanding transplant team that treats even our tiniest of patients,” said Ed Jimenez, chief executive officer of UF Health Shands Hospital. “It’s very rewarding to know that physicians from across Florida and the United States are opting to send their patients to UF Health because our team is committed to taking the utmost care of their patients and families.”
In 2014, UF Health opened the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, or PCICU, to better serve the heart center’s most complex cases, including children who are awaiting heart transplantation, using a multidisciplinary team approach. The 18,000-square-foot expansion includes 23 private patient rooms, each with its own bathroom and shower. In addition, there is a dedicated area for physical therapy in the PCICU designed for children with congenital heart defects, both pre and post operating.