The Gift of Life: It’s National Pediatric Transplant Week

For some with congenital heart disease, a life-saving heart transplant is an inevitable part of treatment. This week is National Pediatric Transplant Week – a chance to honor and celebrate the gift of life provided through pediatric organ donation and transplant.

Each year National Pediatric Transplant Week takes place during the last week of National Donate Life Month to raise awareness, focus on the ultimate goal of ending the pediatric transplant waiting list, and to honor and celebrate the gift of life provided through pediatric organ donation and transplant. 

For some impacted by congenital heart disease, or those impacted by a secondary heart disease like cardiomyopathy, a heart transplant is the only option for treatment. In honor of #kidstransplantweek, we’re sharing some important facts and statistics about pediatric heart transplants; and the story of a family whose lives were touched by the ultimate gift of life. 

Pediatric Heart Transplant Facts and Statistics

According to the registry of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, approximately 600-700 pediatric heart transplantation procedures are performed worldwide each year, representing about 12% of the total number of heart transplants performed (Bock, 2020). 

In 2021, 488 pediatric heart transplants, and 2 pediatric heart/lung transplants, were performed in the United States alone. 

An alarming 52% of the pediatric patients awaiting heart transplants are people from racial and ethnic minority groups. 

As of the posting of this blog, there are 427 children currently waiting for a heart transplant. Most children under the age of 1 are waiting for a liver or heart transplant. Most children ages 1-5 are waiting for a liver, kidney, or heart transplant.

Waitlist time for transplantation varies depending on a patient’s weight, blood type, and waiting status. A patient may wait weeks to months before a donor offer is available. It is common for many patients to wait for over a year.

Once an appropriate donor heart is available, a patient has two to four hours to get to the hospital and get ready for surgery. Recipients usually stay in the hospital for 10-14 days after surgery.

A heart transplant is not a cure for CHD and patients will continue to require lifelong, specialized care. There is about an 85% survival rate at one year post-transplant.

For more information about pediatric organ donation and transplant:

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