Are there long-term complications for children with heart transplants?

The main factors limiting long-term survival among children who have undergone heart transplant are graft vasculopathy and renal (kidney) complications. Graft vasculopathy is an accelerated form of coronary artery disease (CAD) in which artery walls progressively thicken due to plaque buildup. Repeat heart transplantation can be performed to treat graft vasculopathy, while kidney transplantation can be performed on children who develop renal complications.

While major challenges still exist for long-term survival in children, the lifespan of the child can be prolonged. This can be done with close surveillance, lifelong monitoring and advances in immunosuppression medications. Pediatric heart transplant is not a cure, but a chance at life.

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Heart Transplant

Diseased hearts can be replaced during a heart transplant, a measure taken to help save a persons life after other treatments have failed.If you have end-stage heart failure, which has severely weakened or damaged your heart, you ...

most likely will need a heart transplant. However, because so few hearts are available, you must be sick enough to need a new heart but healthy enough to survive the surgery. In the U.S., only about 2,000 hearts are available each year, while there are 3,000 people waiting for a new heart. While you wait for a new heart, your doctor may insert a ventricular assist device (VAD) to help your heart continue to function. Once you have the transplant, you will need to take medications to suppress your immune system, so it doesnt attack your new heart. A team of doctors will monitor if your body accepts the new heart. The team will also look out for any infections that you may develop because of a suppressed immune system.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.