For every program created at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, there is a purpose, a vital service to offer and most importantly, the collective commitment to saving lives. Ten years ago, the Pediatric Heart Transplant Program at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital received its certification from UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) and the program’s impact on South Florida and beyond has been accomplished one heartbeat at a time.
As the team of cardiac experts, who were recruited from across the country, honor the program’s decade milestone, the true celebration is focused on the many lives saved and the families they have kept together throughout the unique journey of heart transplantation.
To date, the transplant team at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Heart Institute have performed 67 pediatric heart transplants with many more children on the list, awaiting the gift of life.
“Most of our patients have come from and around the tri-county area, and southwest Florida. Others have come from cities all over the state,” said Frank Scholl, MD, chief of the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Heart Institute, who performed the first heart transplant in the hospital’s history 10 years ago.
The data from the program shows that patients have done amazingly well, even beyond the critical three-year survival rate post-transplant.
“In the past year, we’ve had two-24-hour days where we’ve done two transplants. It shows our level of where our team has gotten to – to be able to accomplish that and make it routine,” Scholl adds.
The cardiac transplant program at Joe DiMaggio’s Children Hospital Heart Institute has expanded in the last decade. It now offers wraparound services in support of heart transplant patients, and the team’s expertise spans across multiple disciplines, including congenital heart care, cardiomyopathy, advanced heart failure, critical care and mechanical circulatory support.
To date, more than 30 patients have been supported with mechanical circulatory support using ventricular assisted devices including the Berlin Heart Excor, Heartware HVAD, Pedimag and Impella devices. Caring for these patients is complex and requires a highly specialized team to monitor and maintain them in a state of readiness for transplant, recovery or another cardiac intervention.
In addition to the medical expertise and the compassionate care provided by a supporting team of nurses and other specialists, the donor families are vital to each patient’s journey.
“We are ever grateful to all our donor families, who in their deepest grief were thinking of others. They are the ones who make it possible for our patients to have a second chance,” said Maryanne Chrisant, MD, medical director, Pediatric Cardiac Transplant, Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy. She was recruited to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital more than a decade ago to help build the cardiac transplant and related programs. “Our clinical expertise and excellent outcomes have earned the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital heart transplant program national and international recognition.”
As the team reflects on such a historical milestone for the program, Dr. Chrisant says, “The most rewarding part for our work is being able to take a child and a family that is so encumbered by that child’s illness and carry them from a state of grief and uncertainty to a child’s state of wellness and the family’s state of joy and hope for the future.”
Dr. Scholl adds his insights from the past decade: “The program was started so people could have world class pediatric heart care in their own backyard. Now that has been reversed, and we are caring for patients that are coming from hundreds and thousands of miles away – out of the country even, to have their heart care here. And that’s really the mark of what we’ve done and shows the reputation we’ve built.”
- 10 years – Pediatric Heart Transplant program launched on Dec. 10, 2010.
- 67 patients - Performed 67 heart transplants.
- 2 times 2 – Performed two heart transplants in one 24-hour period — a rare and incredibly special occurrence - and the team did it twice, once in June and again in October.
- 100% survival - Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Heart Institute is proud of its 1 and 3-year survival rate.
- 1 of 4 – One of only four children’s heart transplant programs in Florida.
- 1st – Performed the first children’s implant of a HeartWare biventricular assist device in South Florida. The patient was sent home
- 11 counties - Families have come from 11 Florida counties for their children’s heart transplants.
- U.S. News Badge – Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is ranked among the Best Children’s Hospitals for Cardiology & Heart Surgery, by U.S. News & World Report.
As Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital looks to the future and continued growth of its nationally recognized facility, the need for additional space is vital. A planned expansion project will double the floors of the current hospital building to eight. It will feature an expansion of 156,000 square feet, including floors/areas dedicated to the following:
- Heart Institute, including a Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU)
- Cardiac procedure rooms
- Post-anesthesia cardiac unit
- Rehabilitation unit with gym
- Intensive Care Unit
- Intermediate care
- Spaces for patients and families
Visit the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Heart Institute or call 954-265-3437 for more information.