A heart transplant in the infant child is a solution to quite an unfortunate turn of events. Usually, subjecting a child to such a stressful procedure is avoided, but to save lives, the desperate measure calls for desperate times. Congenital cardiomyopathy is found to occur at least once in about every 10,000 live births, and this is still the leading the cause of heart transplants in infants. How long do heart transplants last?

How Long Does a Heart Transplant Last in a Child?

Heart transplants have saved the lives of children with various heart disorders. Usually, this would not have been possible years back, and some developing countries are not yet fully equipped in solving the issue, but the support from World Health Organization and other philanthropist groups are gradually assisting in providing adequate resources for the surgical procedure. You know the phrase, “You have the heart of a Lion,” most of the pediatric patients that benefit from donor’s hearts enjoy quite a remarkable level of survival. The hearts they get could either be from deceased adults or children as well. The chances of survival have been up since the advent and introduction of antisepsis and antibiotics. Most patients live up to ten years without any struggle at all. A recent study on the health of pediatric patients, who were given heart transplants, which are now adults, was carried out and a staggering result of proper life without assistance or rehabilitation in all the twenty participants was recorded. Before any of the pediatric patients require a new transplant if any, they live well up to decades after their initial transplant.

Pediatric Heart Transplant Survival Statistics

According to Kathleen E. Simpsons and her colleagues, in a study done in 2017, they discovered that at the time of heart transplants, Many of the patient of Fontan that was operated on during the late era, which was from 2007 to 2014, and they were found to need inotropic support. They also recognized that they had protein-losing enteropathy and some of the children had a failure to thrive, as well as being on ventilator support although that rarely happened.

After the of a heart transplant, Fontan patient survived significantly, and the results were much better compared to that of the early era (p = 0.02). The best results were recorded in the data taken in the first year after heart transplant with the survival of 77% in the early era, which is from 1993 to 2006, and much-improved value of 89% in the late period. The late era patients that were not Fontan chronic heart disease patients also had survival rates that were similar that of Fontan patients which peaked at 92%.


How Long Can a Child Live With a Heart Transplant?

A heart transplant is not necessarily the first intervention in children with heart disorders until it is indispensable and compulsory. This is due to the challenges that come with waiting and getting an appropriate organ donor for the child. Heart failures could be because of systolic dysfunction leading to low cardiac output.

Also, it may be due to diastolic dysfunction. Congenital heart disease can also complicate the condition of the child, both in diagnosing and treatment. But thanks to various stellate research and improved procedures successful operations have increased dramatically in the children who undergo heart transplantations with 80% success rate and sometimes pushing up to 90%. A lot of them have been seen and observed to live long fulfilled life, having healthy children of their own. All thanks to the heart transplant they received as children.

How Common are Heart Transplants in Infants?

Heart transplantation in infants and the pediatric population at large has now become a pervasive intervention in the medical world. Based on the data of the registry of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, they have recorded approximately 500-600 annual surgical procedures for heart transplantation that were carried out all over the world. These figures represent an estimate of one-eighth of the total incidence of heart transplants that were done in adults and children altogether. Congenital heart disorders that occur during the development of a child in the mother’s womb have remained the most common reason for electing for heart transplant procedures in children.


Pediatric Heart Transplant Protocol

The child is placed on the waiting list, this could be a concise period of a few days, and it could also take longer depending on when a suitable donor is found. Once the donor is available, the hospital calls to give the notification that the donated heart is available. The primary challenge involved in the process of waiting is because only the heart of dying people can be used for the transplant unlike the case of a kidney transplant that living people can give and they will also be able to lead a healthy life.

After notifying the parent or guardian, a confirmatory blood test will be done to make sure the new heart and the recipient blood group are a perfect match. Immediately after that brief moment of confirmation, the child is prepped for surgery and wheeled into the theater. The duration of the operation may vary but it takes less than a day and the recovery period also varies from one individual to another.

The next step is to monitor the progress and the response of the body to the new organ especially to avoid organ-transplant rejection. The child will be given medications to assist the body in coping and preventing rejection, although this may also make the patient susceptible to infections that are also monitored closely. A few other follow-up is done, and the child will check in with the hospital periodically, but as far the regulations of the Doctors are followed to the letter, they will do their best to keep the child safe to the best of their ability.

The benefit of a heart transplant is enormous, and thankfully the healthcare professionals are working hard both in the Operating theatre and researching to keep the results favorable.


Pundi, K. N., Johnson, J. N., Dearani, J. A., Pundi, K. N., Li, Z., Hinck, C. A., … & Cetta, F. (2015). 40-year follow-up after the Fontan operation: long-term outcomes of 1,052 patients. Journal of the American College of Cardiology66(15), 1700-1710.

Hollander, S. A., Chen, S., Luikart, H., Burge, M., Hollander, A. M., Rosenthal, D. N., … & Bernstein, D. (2015). Quality of life and metrics of achievement in long‐term adult survivors of a pediatric heart transplant. Pediatric transplantation19(1), 76-81.

Ryan, T. D., & Chin, C. (2017, August). Pediatric cardiac transplantation. In Seminars in pediatric surgery (Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 206-212). Elsevier.