Kids who undergo heart transplant living longer, study says

January 28, 2014 by Mary Brophy Marcus, Healthday Reporter
Kids who undergo heart transplant living longer: study
Many are surviving 15 years and beyond, researchers find.

(HealthDay)—More than half of babies and children who receive heart transplants are surviving many years, say the authors of a new study.

Pediatric are living 15 years and longer with good heart function, the scientists said. They are scheduled to present their findings Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, held in Orlando, Fla.

Study author Dr. Hannah Copeland, a thoracic surgery fellow at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, and colleagues analyzed data from 337 young patients who received between the ages of birth and 17 years.

All of the children underwent surgery at Loma Linda Children's Hospital between 1985 and 1998. The researchers reported that 54 percent (183 of 337 patients) survived at least 15 years.

The news gives hope, Copeland said. "Children are surviving transplant surgeries. More than half of the patients in our study survived," she noted. "We're saying if your child needs a heart transplant, they can live for a long period of time."

The average adult survival rate after a heart transplant is 10 years, Copeland said. "We looked at 15 years in children because there are few studies on that many years out. We also wanted to look at quality of life factors, as well," she said.

Of the 15-year survivors, 82.5 percent were alive and showed good heart function at their most recent follow-up appointment, Copeland added.

A condition called "cardiac allograft vasculopathy" is the biggest hurdle to long-term survival after a transplant, the researchers noted.

"Graft vasculopathy is a thickening of the blood vessels which makes the vessels themselves smaller and therefore it's harder to get oxygen and 'food' to the heart," said Elizabeth Blume, medical director of the pediatric heart transplant program at Boston Children's Hospital. Blume was not involved with the study.

Kidney failure is also a complication. The medications children take to suppress their immune systems to prevent their bodies from rejecting the new heart can be damaging to the kidneys. But study author Copeland said kidney transplants, as well as second and third heart transplants, and newer medications are also helping to extend lives.

It's an "important" abstract, said Blume, who is also an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

"It does provide us with a lot of the data that we need," Blume said. "This is a large population of patients who are surviving far out, which I think provides important data for the field. On the other hand, there's a lot of re-transplanting needed, and a lot of kidney dysfunction, and it does challenge us to do better and to find ways to address the long-term issues."

Copeland noted that "many challenges still exist for long-term survival in kids—this isn't a cure."

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Explore further: Kidney failure can complicate long-term outcomes in children receiving solid-organ transplants

More information: Visit the heart transplant program at Boston Children's Hospital to learn more about heart transplantation in kids.

Related Stories

Kidney failure can complicate long-term outcomes in children receiving solid-organ transplants

October 14, 2013
Children who undergo transplants of solid organs have a high risk of developing advanced kidney disease, according to a new national study. Among these children, the highest risk is in those receiving lung or intestinal transplants, ...

White pediatric heart transplant patients more likely than non-whites to survive long term

November 14, 2011
White heart transplant patients under the age of 18 are more than twice as likely to be alive a decade after surgery as their African-American counterparts, new Johns Hopkins research suggests.

Study: 'Icy' technique improves robotic kidney transplants

January 21, 2014
A collaboration of surgeons at Henry Ford Hospital and Medanta Hospital in India successfully transplanted kidneys into 50 recipients using an innovative robot-assisted procedure in which the organ is cooled with sterile ...

Heart transplant patients at risk for serious skin cancers

June 30, 2011
A new study published in the American Journal of Transplantation reveals that there is a significant risk of serious skin cancers, including cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, in heart transplant patients.

US approves first heart pump for children

December 18, 2011
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a first mechanical cardiac assist device for children that can help keep patients alive as they await a transplant.

Researchers find comparable long-term outcomes between diastolic and systolic heart failure patients

January 9, 2014
A new study by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) found comparable long-term outcomes between congestive heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction commonly ...

Recommended for you

World's first child hand transplant a 'success'

July 19, 2017
The first child in the world to undergo a double hand transplant is now able to write, feed and dress himself, doctors said Tuesday, declaring the ground-breaking operation a success after 18 months.

Knee surgery—have we been doing it wrong?

July 18, 2017
A team of University at Buffalo medical doctors have published a study that challenges a surgical practice used for decades during arthroscopic knee surgery.

New tools help surgeons find liver tumors, not nick blood vessels

July 17, 2017
The liver is a particularly squishy, slippery organ, prone to shifting both deadly tumors and life-preserving blood vessels by inches between the time they're discovered on a CT scan and when the patient is lying on an operating ...

Researchers discover indicator of lung transplant rejection

July 13, 2017
Research by scientists at Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center's Norton Thoracic Institute was published in the July 12, 2017 issue of Science Translational Medicine titled "Zbtb7a induction in alveolar ...

New device could make closing surgical incisions a cinch

July 7, 2017
Like many surgeons, Dr. Jason Spector is often faced with the challenge of securely closing the abdominal wall without injuring the intestines. If the process goes awry, there can be serious consequences for patients, including ...

Success with first 20 patients undergoing minimally invasive pancreatic transplant surgery

June 29, 2017
Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that their first series of a minimally invasive procedure to treat chronic pancreas disease, known as severe pancreatitis, resulted in shorter hospital stays, less need for opioids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.