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Heart Transplant


Pediatric Heart Transplant

Our Pediatric Heart and Heart-Lung Transplant Program serves as a major referral center for the Western U.S. We performed our first transplant in 1984 and have completed more than 300 since.

We consistently achieve high outcomes, with patient survival that exceeds national standards. Our center has had virtually zero surgical mortalities in recent years, compared to the 5 percent to 15 percent rate other centers experience. That achievement is even more remarkable given that we routinely take complex cases.

We're able to tap a wealth of local knowledge - UCLA is one of the country's leading centers for pediatric heart transplantation, and we also offer a strong Lung Transplant Program.

Learn more about our heart transplantation procedure

UCLA's Unique Approach to Pediatric Heart Transplants

We understand that children and teens represent a unique group of patients. We care for our pediatric patients through a closely linked approach that brings together a range of specialists:

  • Our team closely collaborates and often sees patients together in clinic and on rounds. This unusual approach improves communication and provides experience caring for the full range of patients, from infants to young adults. Our team includes:
    • Pediatric cardiologists
    • Cardiothoracic surgeons
    • Dentists
    • Nurse practitioners
    • Transplant coordinators
    • Social workers
    • Dieticians
    • Child developmental specialists
  • At least once a week, providers meet to discuss all patients (inpatient and outpatient) and to consider their complex medical diagnoses and psychosocial situations.
  • We also occasionally host special events outside the hospital, such as our transplant picnic and annual holiday party. These events bring together patients awaiting transplant with our medical team, to improve our communication and support. Often, families and patients become quite close, thanks to their common experience.
  • When a patient is ready to move beyond the pediatric program, UCLA offers a specialized transition to adult care service. We are among the few programs that transplant both pediatric and adult patients.

Highly Specialized Pediatric Heart Transplant Providers

Our unusual expertise allows us to help pediatric heart transplant patients throughout the spectrum of care, from heart failure therapy to transplantation:

  • Our pediatric heart transplant physicians are board-certified pediatric cardiologists. We also have a physician who specializes in adult congenital heart disease, giving our patients access to expertise and knowledge.
  • Additionally, our physicians and surgeons all have special areas of expertise in children's cardiology, including muscular dystrophy with heart failure, congenital heart disease and congenital heart surgery.
  • Our specialized experience allowed us to create the Advanced Cardiac Congenital Therapies (ACCT) clinic for patients with single-ventricle disease who are headed toward transplant. This clinic brings together various specialists to treat patients medically, while also preparing them for transplant.
  • Our team has a long history of working exceptionally well together, with most members working at UCLA for more than a decade. We collaborate frequently with UCLA physicians in other specialties such as kidney transplant, liver transplant and combined organ transplant.

Leader in VAD and Artificial Heart in Children and Teens

We are the West Coast's leader in ventricular assist devices (VAD) and artificial hearts in the pediatric population:

  • We implant all FDA-approved assist devices in the pediatric population, including the total artificial heart and Berlin Heart.
  • Currently, we use the full-size (70cc) total artificial heart in young patients.
  • In 2015, we were the first to implant a smaller (50cc), experimental total artificial heart, in an adult. Once this artificial heart receives FDA approval, we will likely use it in pediatric patients.

Caring for Children Before, During and After Heart Transplant

We work to make the transplant experience as seamless as possible for your child and your family:

  • Once the transplantation evaluation is complete, we give your family a tour of the hospital and connect you to the units where your child will receive care.
  • We connect your family with others who have experienced a similar journey.
  • Whenever feasible, we prefer patients to remain in the comfort of their homes as long as possible before transplant.
  • Following a transplant, patients usually stay in the Los Angeles area for three months. Our patient care teams work with families to find options for lodging and other resources. Learn more about patient education.

Throughout the transplant process, we build a bond with patients and families that allows for consistent and thorough communication. Together, we can handle challenging life events that can affect your child's health and well-being.

Clinical Innovation, Research and Trials

UCLA conducts ongoing clinical research regarding new approaches to help pediatric patients. Some of our recent and ongoing work includes:

  • Researching new ventricular assist devices (VADs) and ways to help patients with bridge to transplant, especially those with congenital heart disease (CHD).
  • Continuing to advance multiple-organ transplantation in the pediatric population, such as heart-lung, heart-liver and heart-kidney transplant.
  • Hosting one of the premier laboratories for clinical immunology and studying new ways to monitor potential organ rejection.

 Learn more about our research and trials.

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