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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2011 Jan;141(1):223-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2010.09.018. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Pediatric cardiac retransplant: differing patterns of primary graft failure by age at first transplant.

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The Children's Hospital Heart Institute, Aurora, Colo 80045, USA.



This study compared graft failure leading to retransplant in infants versus older children at initial heart transplant.


Twenty-six retransplant recipients were compared by age at first transplant: infant group (<1 year) and pediatric group (≥1 year).


Early retransplant survival was 92%. Retransplant survivals at 1, 3, and 5 years were 83%, 74%, and 67%. There were 15 infant and 11 pediatric patients. First transplant ages were 0.4 ± 0.3 vs. 8.5 ± 5.7 years in infant and pediatric groups, respectively (P < .01). First graft rejection episodes were more common in pediatric group (4.8 ± 2.5 vs 3.1 ± 2.1, P = .032), and rejection rate was higher (1.5 ± 1.1 vs 0.4 ± 0.4, P = .0024). Median first graft survival was longer in infant group (10.7 years vs 3.9 years, P < .001). Recurrent cellular rejection was retransplant indication in 40% of infant group versus 91% of pediatric group (P < .05). Cardiac allograft vasculopathy was more prevalent in infant group (73% vs 20% in pediatric group, P = .032).


Infant heart transplant recipients had longer primary graft survival, fewer cellular rejection episodes, and higher incidence of cardiac allograft vasculopathy relative to older graft recipients requiring retransplant. Advantages in adaptive immunity in infant heart recipients confer improved primary graft survival, but longer graft life in these patients is limited by cardiac allograft vasculopathy. Older recipient first graft failure was rejection related, and shorter graft life probably limited development of cardiac allograft vasculopathy.

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