Dell Children's takes on complex cases other hospitals pass up

The heart transplant team at Dell Children's Medical Center and UT Health Austin in Texas has performed six heart transplants since the program launched in October 2020 — triple the amount it had originally projected, the Austin American Statesman reported Oct. 3. 

The heart transplant program was three years in the making at the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children's and UT Health, launched in 2018. The heart center's transplant team has since become known for taking on niche, complex cases that other Texas hospitals turn down. There are currently an additional six patients listed for a heart transplant at the hospital, which expects to complete 10 to 15 transplants this year. 

"It's very much the kids who are turned away elsewhere," Chesney Castleberry, MD, medical director of Dell Children's pediatric heart transplant team, told the news outlet, adding that all six of its transplant cases so far have been in patients with complex heart defects. 

The Austin American-Statesman reported on the case of Jayson Stulsas, a 16-year-old patient who was born with an underdeveloped left ventricle. After several heart surgeries, his condition worsened and it was determined that he would need a heart transplant in July 2019. 

While the team at Children's Medical Center in Dallas agreed to list Jayson for transplant in December 2019, they later determined calcification in his aorta and two stents in his pulmonary arteries would make the procedure too risky. 

The transplant team at Dell Children's heart center took on the case. Jayson underwent the heart transplant Aug. 11 and is recovering well, according to the Austin American-Statesman. 

The heart center has performed more than 1,000 heart surgeries since its launch in 2018, including implanting ventricular assist devices and Berlin mechanical hearts. 

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