Lurie Children's premier Heart Center hits milestone: 400 pediatric heart transplants

November 01, 2021

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago marked an important milestone on Oct. 23 when its cardiovascular-thoracic surgery team performed the hospital’s 400th pediatric heart transplant since the team’s first one in 1988.

The recipient was a two-year-old girl from Moline, Illinois, who is stable and doing well, said Dr. Michael Mongé, Surgical Director of Lurie Children’s Heart Failure and Heart Transplant Program. Dr. Mongé performed the 400th transplant along with Dr. Sunjay Kaushal, Division Head of Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgery; pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Osama Eltayeb; and a team of more than 40 nurses, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric anesthesiologists, surgical technicians and organ procurement and transport specialists.

“Watching the donated heart wake up and start to beat again is a miraculous experience that never gets old,” said Dr. Mongé. “It is incredibly awesome to

Michael C. Mongé, MD, left, is the Surgical Director of the Heart Failure/Heart Transplant Program at Lurie Children's. At right is the Medical Director of the Heart Failure/Heart Transplant Program, Dr. Philip Thrush.

participate in this process, giving the ‘gift of life’ to these children and their families.”

Lurie Children’s Pediatric Heart Failure and Heart Transplantation Program is the only program of its kind in Illinois and a leading transplant program in the country. It has been in the top three hospitals in the country by volume for pediatric heart transplants since 2018. In 2020, the team performed 28 transplants, with 34 in 2019 and 25 in 2018. Indeed, the last three years have had an extraordinarily high volume of heart transplants.

“This large increase speaks to the success of our heart transplantation program,” Dr. Mongé said. “We are not only the sole operating pediatric heart transplant center in Illinois, but also a national and international referral center.”

Furthermore, Lurie Children’s three-year survival rate for heart transplant recipients is 95 percent, higher than the national average.

“We have repeatedly achieved some of the best outcomes for pediatric heart transplantation in the country,” Dr. Mongé said. “It is very gratifying to participate in the care of these courageous children and give their parents the opportunity to see them grow and develop.”

Dr. Mongé also recognized relatives of the young donors who have made 400 hearts become available for Lurie Children’s patients who need them.

“These families have made the selfless decision to donate life,” he said. “There is truly no greater gift.”

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