The rise and fall of a child’s breathing is a beautiful thing. We aim to give that back to children and parents, using the most advanced technology to help lungs and hearts heal. When all other options are exhausted, we have the capability to perform lung transplants. In fact, the St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Heart Center is a leader in children’s lung transplantation, including performing more infant lung transplants than anyone in the world.
Lung Failure Care: Why Choose The Heart Center?
We have long been a leader in treating children with lung failure. We are always seeking innovations that help children feel better, heal faster and go home sooner. We offer:
- Deep expertise plus high volume: Our lung transplant program is one of the oldest in the country. We perform more child lung transplants than other hospitals, including the most infant lung transplants in the world.
- Lung assist devices: We are the only center in the world to successfully delay lung transplants for children by using lung assist devices. These devices help lower the risks for children.
- Innovative pulmonary hypertension treatments: Pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in the lung arteries, can damage a child’s heart. We are a leader in performing Potts shunt, a surgery that improves a child’s blood flow and takes some of the burden off the heart. Learn more about how we treat pulmonary hypertension.
- ECMO transport: Transporting a child on ECMO (an artificial heart and lung machine) takes special expertise. We are one of only a few centers in the country with ECMO transport capacity, including a dedicated transport team, helicopters and six-wing aircraft outfitted for this purpose.
- Continual innovation: We are working to develop more comprehensive and refined ways of treating lung failure in infants and children. There has been a great deal of innovation around heart failure support devices for children. Our goal is to do the same for lung failure support devices.
Lung Failure Services We Offer
We treat children from birth through adulthood. Our program offers the latest and most advanced surgical treatments, assist devices and medical management for lung failure, including:
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
ECMO can help children with severe respiratory failure. This machine acts as an artificial heart and lung. It is similar to a heart-lung bypass, because it “bypasses” the heart and lung to circulate blood and oxygen. ECMO may allow your child’s heart and lungs to recover and get strong again. Our team also uses ECMO to support children who are waiting for a lung transplant. Learn about cardiac ECMO at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Paracorporeal lung assist devices (PLAD)
It is dangerous for children’s hearts and lungs to stay on ECMO too long. It is equally dangerous for children to wean them off ECMO too soon. St. Louis Children's Hospital has long been trying to solve this problem. We currently lead the way in using paracorporeal lung assist devices (PLAD). These devices can safely bridge children from ECMO to recovery or transplant.
We take every measure we can to avoid or delay lung transplant. If your child does need a lung transplant, we have more experience than any other hospital in the world, including infant lung transplants. Our surgeons, cardiac support and critical care teams specialize in taking care of these children that other hospitals may turn away.