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Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Celebrates The 5th Anniversary Of The Pediatric Heart Transplant Program

For 21 pediatric patients and their families, the Pediatric Heart Transplant Program at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital (JDCH) became the place where a new heart gave them a new life of beginnings and possibilities.

For five years, these patients have led incredible journeys while the JDCH Heart Transplant Program has celebrated its growth and success as one of two programs in South Florida and one of four programs in the state.

“The 5th anniversary represents a significant milestone in programmatic maturity,” said Frank Scholl, M.D., Chief of Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgery and Surgical Director of Heart Transplantation. “To have achieved 100% operative, one and 3 year survival rates over a five year period, in a very complex group of 21 patients is truly an outstanding and remarkable achievement for the entire team. This is a testament to the expertise and maturity of the program and the results are truly world class.”

“This is a celebration of milestones on many levels and for many people,” said Maryanne Chrisant, M.D., Medical Director of Pediatric Heart Transplant, Cardiomyopathy & Heart Failure Services at JDCH. “It is truly a celebration of life for patients and their families, a historic gathering with patients, the transplant and hospital teams. It is also an opportunity to cherish the lives of those who gave the precious gift of life, along with thanking the loved ones who made it possible.”

The Pediatric Heart Transplant program took on life on December 10, 2010, when JDCH received approval at the federal level from UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing). The approval of the program was the culmination of years of strategic planning, including the formation of a pediatric cardiac transplant team with the right mix of expertise and compassion. Five days later, on December 15, the hospital’s first pediatric heart transplant was performed by the expert cardiac transplant team – marking the first steps to a new journey for the patient and the JDCH Heart Transplant Program.

“We are fortunate to be able to restore a high quality of life to people that are truly at the end of life. As a result of this they will be able to grow up and have families of their own and become significant contributors to the community. This is a real accomplishment,” added Scholl.

Today, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Heart Transplant Program is part of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary cardiac center comprised of more than 13 services and programs grouped by cardiac specialty, offering care and treatment for a wide range of conditions, from heart transplants to the rarest, most complex congenital defects. In addition, the Pediatric Heart Transplant Program offers the use of Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD) that provides mechanical cardiac support for critically ill pediatric patients suffering from severe heart failure. The system is designed to support pediatric patients of all age groups, from newborns to teenagers, and is intended to bridge patients awaiting heart transplantation from days up to several months, until a suitable donor heart becomes available.

Prior to federal approval, statistics showed that a large number of children did not have sufficient access to heart transplant services, and many had to seek services outside South Florida and even out of state.

“We are fortunate to have a team of high caliber, dedicated nurses, intensivists, perfusionists, and laboratory medicine experts,” added Chrisant. “It takes an unwavering commitment to providing superior service in all levels of patient and family-centered care to help us make this dream of a second chance at life a reality.”

About Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is a 224-bed hospital that offers a safe, compassionate and nurturing environment for young patients and their families. With more than 600 board-certified physicians on staff, the hospital’s broad range of pediatric specialties includes: Heart Institute, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Cleft and Craniofacial Center, Cystic Fibrosis and Pulmonary Center, Emergency Department and Trauma Center, Endocrinology, General and Thoracic Surgery, Orthopedics, Pediatric Nephrology and Hypertension Program; Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Wasie Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, [U18] Sports Medicine, Outpatient Services and Inpatient/Outpatient Rehabilitation Program.

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