Since cardiomyopathy can be a progressive condition, the heart may deteriorate to the point where medication, mechanical treatments or surgery are no longer effective. When a child no longer responds to other treatments and has persistent symptoms of heart failure or suffers severed disability, a heart transplant may be recommended as a procedure of last resort.
Cardiomyopathy is a leading cause for heart transplants in children. Roughly 20% of infants and children with symptomatic cardiomyopathy require a transplant within the first year of diagnosis. While a heart transplant can eliminate the symptoms of heart failure and improve survival, there are many post-surgery considerations. This includes the possibility of infection, organ rejection, coronary artery disease, and side effects from medications.
The heart transplant process is involved and the different stages include:
Your child’s heart transplant team will help you get through the entire process. CCF has partnered with the Pediatric Heart Transplant Foundation to develop a helpful resource that explains the entire heart transplant process from assessment and listing to surgery and post transplant care. The guidebook, Pediatric Heart Transplants: A Guide for Patients and Families, draws on the experience and knowledge of the top pediatric heart transplant specialists in the U.S. and Canada. To view the guidebook, please click here.