Heart Transplant/Heart Failure Program
A child with heart failure has a diseased heart that can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands. Symptoms may include fatigue, excessive sweating or trouble breathing.
Pediatric heart failure is a condition that can have varied causes, including congenital heart defects and acquired or inherited heart disease. Doctors may refer to it as advanced or end-stage heart disease.
Heart failure is a serious condition, but children have many good treatment options available through the Heart Center at Phoenix Children’s. It is the only program of its kind in the region, led by fellowship-trained, multispecialty pediatric cardiologists with high-level skills and a passion for helping children and families.
Our cardiologists use the latest advances to manage heart failure, delay its progress and renew a child’s strength, health and quality of life. We treat children at every stage of life from fetal care through teens transitioning to our Adult Congenital Heart Disease program.
Hearts and Hope for Kids
The Heart Center at Phoenix Children’s stays in the forefront of quality, research and innovation to offer exceptional heart care for kids.
Your child’s heart specialists will discuss treatment options for heart failure, including its causes or related disease, such as congenital heart defects, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) and other conditions.
In addition to diagnostic testing and consultation, we offer:
- Interventional cardiology using novel imaging technologies for less invasive surgical procedures
- Heart surgery, including minimally invasive, open surgery and hybrid (combined) surgical approaches
- Mechanical circulatory support (MCS) including surgically implanted medical devices, such as ventricular-assist devices (VADs) and total artificial hearts, which can be used to pump blood around the body when the child’s own heart is too weak to do the job
- Heart transplant which requires multispecialty screening and consultation, organ procurement, critical care, cardiac rehabilitation and life-long follow-up care
- Comprehensive programs, services and support
Our team includes academic leaders involved in novel research to enhance care. For example, the Heart Center at Phoenix Children’s partnered with Arizona State University to improve the development of complex customized 3D heart models.
Custom models help doctors to study disease, inform families and guide presurgical planning, such as the best use of MCS to support heart function. Our work has led to innovations like these:
- 3D Print Lab
- 4D Cardiology Visualization and Analytics (CAVA) Lab
- Cardiac volumetrics – Using advanced imaging technology, doctors can measure heart volume and size, enabling them to find closely matched donor organs for recipients. This helps to expand the pool of potential donors and shorten wait times.
Helping Gabriel – the World’s Youngest Artificial Heart Patient
Children like Gabriel are why we’re devoted to high-level heart care. The 10-year-old boy was fighting end-stage heart failure when he became the world’s youngest recipient of a lifesaving total artificial heart (TAH).
Health officials approved the smaller 50cc model for children as an alternative to the larger 70cc TAH typically used for adults. Now, certain children with severe heart failure can receive a TAH as a long-term option or a bridge to transplant surgery.
Finding the Right Heart
Transplant surgeons at Phoenix Children’s closely evaluate compatibility – including blood type, body and heart size, and condition – as well as distance, wait lists and other details.
Our team leads the way in applying new technologies, such as volumetrics. New approaches help doctors to match donor hearts using heart volume and size measurements rather than conventional body-weight comparison approaches for matching available hearts to potential recipients. Advanced imaging and other capabilities allow our doctors to expand the donor pool for children waiting for a heart transplant. This can lead to shorter waiting times and faster recovery.
We also help children who face challenges due to antibodies developed after blood transfusions or surgery, which can increase the risk of organ rejection. Our doctors have improved care for kids like these by developing virtual crossmatching techniques to identify good matches and lower rejection risk.
Meet Jayken – a Transplant Success Story
The heart transplant leaders at Phoenix Children’s have been performing successful transplants for patients like Jayken since 2011.
Our nationally recognized physicians are dedicated to focusing on your child's unique needs in the following specialties: