STL Children's Hospital's performed its historic 500th heart transplant

Anary Suazo, 12, is recovering well after becoming the Heart Center’s 500th heart transplant patient earlier this year

February 28, 2019 - 4:41 pm
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St. Louis Children's and Washington University Heart Center is now the first pediatric heart transplant program in the Midwest, and one of just a handful of across the nation, to reach the milestone of 500 heart transplants. This Heart Center performed one of the Midwest’s first pediatric heart transplants, in 1986, and has since then consistently performed the highest volume of pediatric heart transplants than any other program in the Midwest. Today, the program is known for giving hope to the families of high-risk cases turned away by other hospitals.

Twelve-year-old Anary Suazo from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is recovering well after becoming the Heart Center’s 500th heart transplant patient on January 23
(St. Louis Children's Hospital)
Twelve-year-old Anary Suazo from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is recovering well after becoming the Heart Center’s 500th heart transplant patient on January 23. Anary was born with only half of her heart fully developed and working properly. She had three open heart surgeries in her first two years of life and did well until experiencing a setback last year. Anary told her parents she wanted to fight, so the Heart Center team listed her for transplant. After about six months on the waiting list and a 10-hour surgery performed by Pirooz Eghtesady, MD, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon with Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Anary is doing well.

“The 500th heart transplant performed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a milestone reflecting the program’s stature as one of the largest and most influential in the United States, if not the world,” said Charles Canter, MD, a world-renowned expert in pediatric heart failure and transplant and the founding medical director of the heart transplant program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “It is a testament to the decades’ long dedication of a team that includes physicians, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, therapists and psychologists to be leaders in this field. These accomplishments, however, have been primarily inspired by the courage and commitment of the children and families we have served to transform what was heroic therapy in the 1980s to the real reason for hope it is today.”

Dr. Canter, Dr. Martin “Chip” Bolman, and their team performed their first heart transplant on January 10, 1986, just 19 months after a the world’s first successful pediatric heart transplant was performed on the east coast. This pioneering legacy has continued over the past 33 years.

(St. Louis Children's Hospital)
Today, the St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Heart Center averages 15-20 heart transplants per year, including 17 heart-only transplants and 2 heart-lung transplants in 2018. According to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR), patients who received transplants at St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Heart Center had better-than-expected survival rates a year later, including a 97.56 percent one-year patient survival rate for heart transplant recipients. The current national average is 93.81%. SRTR provides data on organ transplantation that is used to help prospective patients make decisions about which transplant program to choose.

“We are grateful for the decades-long partnership between St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Mid-America Transplant, and we proudly celebrate this remarkable achievement of 500 heart transplants,” said Mid-America Transplant President and CEO Diane Brockmeier. “This milestone is not possible without the generosity of donors and their donor families, who made selfless and heroic decisions to prevent other parents and families from suffering the same loss. It is an incredible legacy for young donors to leave.”

St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Heart Center is the largest heart center in the region, caring for nearly 5,000 pediatric and adult congenital heart disease patients over the past ten years. In many cases, they are creating the new standards of care for children with complex heart conditions.

For more information about the St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Heart Center, visit StLouisChildrens.org, or call (314) 454-6000.