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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Heart Marks 25th Anniversary Of Heart Transplant Program

Patients and doctors celebrated the 25th anniversary of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Heart Transplant Program at a reunion Monday at the hospital. From left are Makana Kadoguchi, Dr. Cynthia Herrington, Melanie Wickersheim, Brooklyn Ledesma, Dr. JonDavid Menteer, Zerkari Payne and Michael Young.

Posted: Friday, February 16, 2018 – 8:30 PM

On Monday, The Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles  (CHLA) celebrated the 25th anniversary of its pediatric heart transplant program, the first dedicated pediatric heart transplant program in a free standing children’s hospital in Southern California. To date, CHLA surgeons have helped provide new hearts to more than 130 children, and counting.

We are proud to mark a quarter century of giving children with the most complex heart conditions a new start,” says Vaughn Starnes, MD, director of the Heart Institute and founder of CHLA’s Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. “It’s extremely rewarding for our dedicated physicians, nurses and staff to be able to make a difference in the lives of these children and enhance their quality of life.”

The program launched in 1993 under the leadership of Dr. Starnes, who is also a Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. The Heart Institute’s heart transplant program is now led by medical director JonDavid Menteer, MD, and surgical director Cynthia Herrington, MD.

On Monday, Feb. 12, , more than 35 CHLA heart transplant patients, ranging from 1 to 37 traveled from as far as San Francisco for an emotional reunion at CHLA with their CHLA medical family—surgeons, cardiologists, nurses and other caregivers —to commemorate this special milestone. Many are now grown and working as speech therapists, nurses and surgical technicians, serving as inspiration to the younger generation of CHLA pediatric heart transplant patients.

For nearly a century, CHLA has been a pioneer in pediatric heart medicine, ever since its doctors performed the first pediatric heart surgery on the West Coast in the 1930’s. The hospital also established the first pediatric cardiothoracic care unit on the West Coast. CHLA’s Heart Institute comprises an integrated inpatient and outpatient suite of services that combines experts in cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, cardiothoracic transplant, cardiothoracic intensive care and cardiovascular acute care. CHLA medical experts treat complex heart conditions and congenital defects from patients still in utero all the way to adulthood. 

Other Highlights and Milestones

• Initially, the program also oversaw lung transplants; in total, CHLA Heart Institute surgeons have performed 230 heart, heart/lung, and lung transplants.

• 1,000 cardiothoracic surgeries performed annually

• More than 11,000 clinic visits a year to the Heart Institute

• CHLA’s Three-Year Pediatric Heart Transplant Patient Survival Rate: 100% (National average: 88.89%)


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