3 ways Stanford Children's is shortening pediatric heart transplant wait times

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Medicine Children's Health completed a 10-year study to find ways to shorten wait times for pediatric heart transplants.

The study identified three ways to improve pediatric heart donation programs, which led to patients receiving hearts faster than the national average, according to a Feb. 8 article on the system's website.

Here are their three recommendations:

  1. Accept donor hearts from people with hepatitis C: Although this practice is becoming more common in adults, it is not common for pediatric patients. Stanford Children's opened its donation program to those with hepatitis C because of a reliable cure: An antiviral drug taken once a day for a few months can cure hepatitis C at a 90 percent to 100 percent rate, according to the article.

  2. Create a donor heart matching program: Adult donors are often matched based on height and weight, but this is rare for children. John Dykes, MD, a cardiologist at the hospital, developed a technique that compares CT scans of donor and recipient hearts to estimate heart volume. This allows donors to match — even between adult donors and child recipients.

  3. Use "Heart in a Box" for children's hearts: "Heart in a Box" technology keeps the heart beating during transportation and increases the window for transplant. Using the technology for pediatric hearts could be just as effective as for adult hearts, the article said.

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