Record number of baby heart transplantations

Record number of baby heart transplantations

Doctors of the Charles University Cardio Center for Children transplanted a new heart to five children the last year. This is a record annual number of transplants over the past ten years. Since 2013, when the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic approved the Charles University Cardio Center for Children as a center for heart transplantation in children, a total of 17 transplants were performed.

3 boys and 2 girls lived to see a new heart in 2019. “The children who underwent the transplantation were of different ages – the youngest was 8 months old and the oldest was 16 years old. All patients suffered from congenital heart defects or heart muscle diseases and waited for a new heart for several months, ”says Professor Jan Janošek, Head of the Charles University Cardio Center for Children. According to him, the number of these patients (units per year) and diagnosis has not changed in recent years. “Our team and its results are among the best in Europe in the treatment of heart diseases in children. By many criteria, we achieve better results than the European average. This requires not only sufficient experience, but also the perfect cooperation of the entire team and a high individual approach, ”adds Professor Janošek.

All hearts transplanted last year were obtained from Czech donors. However, in the case of young children, the number of donors is very limited, since potential donors for this recipient must meet relatively narrow criteria. Not only the size of the heart should coincide, but the donor and the recipient must have a compatible blood group and other immunological parameters. In general, there are very few children’s hearts suitable for transplantation. In addition, the Czech Republic is not a member of the Eurotransplant, and therefore the supply of heart from other countries is very limited.

One of the transplanted children is 5-year-old Adelka, who was diagnosed with very serious heart failure in June 2019. Based on the studies, the chances of improving cardiac function were rated very low. Therefore, Adelka was put on a waiting list for heart transplantation. However, despite the treatment, her condition gradually worsened until the circulatory disturbance. Therefore, she was connect to mechanical circulatory support device (Heartware) – a pump that can partially or completely replace the function of the left ventricle. Thanks to this device, the condition of the little patient stabilized, and after more than two months she underwent a heart transplant.

The Charles University Cardio Center for Children is the only complex cardiovascular center for children in the Czech Republic that provides all treatment options in accordance with modern world standards. The center achieved excellent results at the international level (see table below).

The average number of patients treated

900 per year

Of which transplantation

1-5 transplantations per 900 patients, or 0.11 – 0.56%

Range of diagnoses

predominantly (about 90%) congenital heart defects, acquired heart defects to a much lesser extent

Prevailing age category

newborns / infants / older children: approximately 1: 1: 1

Average hospital stay

9.6 days in 2000; 7.0 days in 2018

Most frequently performed procedures

annually about 500 heart operations and 350-400 catheterizations (80% of them with medical intervention)

The longest surviving transplant patient

Record holder – a patient who underwent a heart transplant in 2000

Statistics of heart transplantations of the The Charles University Cardio Center for Children for the last 6 years.

The average age of the patients was 9.6 years (from 5 months to 17 years). Three patients were less than a year old. Only one patient has died. Complicated congenital heart defects (9) and cardiomyopathy (8) were approximately equally represented in the indications. The average time on the waiting list was 91 days (from 23 to 370 days). Four patients underwent transplantation using mechanical support of the heart (3 Heartware, 1 Berlin Heart). The average hospitalization time immediately after transplantation was 22 days. The median follow-up after transplantation was 2.6 years (3 months to 5.4 years). The probability of 5-year survival exceeds 95%.


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