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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2001 Apr;121(4):782-91.

Pediatric heart transplantation: improving results in high-risk patients.

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Division of Cardiovascular Surgery of The Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto, 555 University Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X8, Canada.



Our institutional experience with 73 pediatric patients undergoing cardiac transplantation between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 1999, was reviewed to determine the impact of unconventional donor and recipient management protocols implemented to extend the availability of this therapy.


The introduction of donor blood cardioplegic solution with added insulin was associated with a significant improvement in patient and graft survival (hazard ratio [Cox] = 0.25, P =.08), despite significantly longer ischemic times with this protocol compared with the use of crystalloid-based donor procurement techniques (P <.01). Eleven patients underwent intentional transplantation of ABO-incompatible donor hearts with the aid of a protocol of plasma exchange on bypass. In this subgroup, there were 2 early deaths caused by nonspecific graft failure (n = 1) and respiratory complications with mild vascular rejection (n = 1), and there was 1 late death caused by lymphoma. ABO-incompatible transplantation was not a risk factor for death by multivariate analysis. The postoperative course in these patients suggests minimal reactivity directed against incompatible grafts on the basis of low anti-donor blood group antibody production, in association with a favorable rejection profile. Ten of 13 patients requiring preoperative support with an extracorporeal membrane oxygenator survived transplantation; there were 3 additional late deaths in this subgroup (hazard ratio = 2.88, P =.05).


The results with pediatric cardiac transplantation continue to improve as a result of changes in both surgical and medical protocols permitting successful treatment of patients conventionally considered at high risk or unsuitable for transplantation.

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