Heart-Lung Transplantation Handbook
Download the Heart-Lung Transplantation Handbook

When transplantation is the best option for your child to have as healthy a life as possible, St. Louis Children’s Hospital is here to help. We are one of the few and most experienced heart/lung transplants providers in the United States, and our program is known for its excellence. With a multi-disciplinary team approach to care, we offer patients excellent outcomes and the hope for a better, healthier life. 

St. Louis Children’s Hospital: Innovators in Heart/Lung Transplantation

St. Louis Children’s Hospital Heart/Lung Transplant Program draws on the seamless collaboration of a closely-knit healthcare team with experts from our Heart Transplant Program and our Lung Transplant Program. This team has performed 22 heart/lung transplants since 1994.

We offer: 

  • One of the most active pediatric heart, lung, and heart/lung transplant centers in the nation
  • World-renowned cardiologists and heart/lung transplant surgeons with decades of training and experience in complex heart and lung care
  • Supportive devices (like ECMO and VAD) to provide bridges to transplant
  • Family-centered, compassionate care from a team of specially trained nurses that focuses on clear communication, close collaboration and puts your child’s needs first
  • A multi-disciplinary team that includes specialists who will help your child cope while they are in the hospital
  • Access to the most advanced treatments and medications available

As a destination for families around the country who seek heart/lung transplant expertise, our program is also known for giving hope to the families of high-risk cases turned away by other hospitals.

Our Approach to Heart/Lung Transplants

Our primary goal is to foster a successful transplant surgery to provide a new heart and lungs for your child and sustain them throughout their active lives. We are dedicated to addressing your concerns and partnering with you in your child’s care before, during and after surgery. 

Our approach to successful heart/lung transplants includes: 

  • Engaging you and your family before your visit to emotionally prepare you for the next steps
  • Collaborating with your referring doctor
  • Assisting in the coordination of travel and lodging needs during your visits
  • Ensuring close coordination with our multi-disciplinary team to prepare your child for a heart/lung transplant
  • Supporting you to keep your child in optimal health while waiting for surgery
  • Designing a personalized pre-surgical brief on your child’s case that we review with our transplant team of specialists
  • Keeping you updated during the surgery, with texts and pictures
  • Providing excellent post-surgery care to rebuild your child’s strength and health
  • Partnering with you and your child for the best post-transplant outcomes
  • Preparing your child to transition to an adult transplant program by starting the readiness process in advance to boost their success

Conditions and Treatments

Children are considered for a heart/lung transplant when they have severe or life-threatening conditions that affect their heart and lungs. A heart/lung transplant is a surgical operation that replaces both the heart and both lungs at the same time. Some reasons for this type of transplant include:

  • Congenital heart and lung disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension with associated heart failure

A heart/lung transplantation is a major operation. Therefore, for every child who enters our heart/lung transplant program, we first evaluate them and investigate all medical therapies for improving their quality of life and health. If a heart/lung transplant is the best treatment course, we perform testing to determine the suitability and enter your child on the heart and lung waiting lists. 

Surgical Treatments

Because the amount of time your child may need to wait for a heart/lung transplant depends on the severity of their disease, blood type and organ size, we may use supportive devices as a bridge to transplant. 

  • ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) helps the body circulate blood and oxygen without having the heart or lungs do the work.
  • VADs (ventricular assistive devices) help support heart function and blood flow. 

Innovation and Research

We are committed to providing leading care for our patients now and in the future. We participate in research studies and clinical trials to help ensure that our patients live longer, healthier lives. 

Meet the Experts

Our pediatric heart-lung transplant team is world-renowned and has decades of experience caring for children who receive heart-lung transplants. Just as important, we know the challenges you face when your child is critically ill – and we specialize in compassionate care to help you through the journey. 

If you need more information about our Heart/Lung Transplant Program, contact 314.454.KIDS or email us. For patient referrals, call Children's Direct at 800.678.HELP (4357).