How Lucile Packard's revamped donor matching processes for heart patients   

To cut down the wait time on pediatric heart transplants, the pediatric cardiology team at Stanford, Calif.-based Lucile Packard Children's Hospital created a new way to better match donor hearts to heart transplant recipients, according to Scope.

Here are four things to know:

1. The technique involves measuring heart volume to determine matches instead of matching hearts based on a pediatric patient's body weight and height, which can significantly limit the supply of available donor hearts for patients.

"Unfortunately for smaller children, there are more donor adolescent and adult hearts because they are more likely to get in accidents," John Dykes, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital told Scope.

2. Many children can receive a larger heart than the weight and height ratio suggests. Dr. Dykes cited two reason for this. Children with heart failure often stop growing, so their hearts are bigger than their height and weight. Heart failure or disease can also cause the heart to grow larger than normal dimensions.

3. For the new matching method, Dr. Dykes and his colleagues compare CT scans of donor and recipient hearts to estimate heart volume.

"If they file a CT scan to our 3D lab, we can put it in [the software], do a quick estimate of the donor's heart size, and in 15 minutes we have a total cardiac volume that we can compare with the recipient," Dr. Dykes told Scope.

4.The Stanford team also uses data on children awaiting transplants to understand how the dimension of the heart can change from different forms of heart failure.

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