HOUSTON (Feb. 12, 2010) The wait is over for 16-year-old Francesco "Frank" De Santiago. On January 29, De Santiago received a donor heart in a nine-hour transplant operation at Texas Children's Heart Center De Santiago made news last October as the first child ever discharged from a pediatric hospital with an implanted mechanical heart pump, or ventricular assist device (VAD). Until then, pediatric patients with VADs remained in the hospital, often in ICU, while awaiting a donor heart.
"Frank's surgery went extremely well; he was a much better candidate for a heart transplant now than eight months ago when his heart was failing," said Dr. David L.D. Morales, pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at Texas Children's Heart Center who implanted Frank's device last May and performed his recent heart transplant. "The device improved his physical health and allowed him be discharged so he could enjoy some normal teen activity during the wait for a donor heart. Texas Children's is leading the way in using five different types of VAD technology to help pediatric patients enhance their quality of life and outlook so they are better prepared for their transplant surgery."
De Santiago will continue to reside in Houston and undergo rehabilitation and follow-up check-ups for three months before returning to his home in south Texas. He calls his heart "a gift" and is learning how to care for himself and his new organ.
Morales said about 450 pediatric heart transplants occur annually in the United State; yet the number of pediatric heart failure cases diagnosed annually continues to rise. He believes that the future of pediatric heart care resides in VAD technology and Texas Children's Heart Center uses the most of any pediatric hospital in the country.
"Heart failure in children is now being diagnosed at an increased rate," said Dr. Jeffrey Dreyer, medical director of cardiac transplantation at Texas Children's Hospital. "Advances in
|Contact: Carol Wittman|
Texas Children's Hospital