During the evaluation, the child will undergo many tests and procedures that may include:
- A routine medical exam. This includes checking your child’s height, weight, blood pressure, and reviewing his medical history. This includes family history and any surgery the child has had in the past. Parents should bring the following items with them:
A written record of the child’s medical history—have it ready before coming to the transplant evaluation to share with the pediatric heart surgeons
The child’s medicines and a medicine list
A list of questions about the child’s heart transplant or pre-transplant evaluation
- Blood tests that check the child’s:
- Blood type—this test checks the child’s blood type to see if it is A, B, AB or O
- Tissue type markers for organ matching
- Blood counts, such as red and white blood cell counts
- Blood chemistry to check electrolytes and other organ function
- Blood for viruses
- Urine tests to make sure the child’s kidneys are working well.
- Pulmonary function tests (breathing tests), if the child is old enough, to check the function of the lungs.
- An echocardiogram (echo) to look at the heart’s structure and see how well the heart is pumping.
- A cardiac catheterization (cardiac cath) to measure the pressures inside your child’s heart.
- This is another way to look at the heart’s structure and see how well it is working.
- The cardiac cath may also include a biopsy of the child’s heart to gather more information about the child’s heart disease.
- You and your child will also meet with members of hte heart transplant team. This includes time with a:
- Cardiologist and nurse practitioner to discuss heart transplant
- Psychologist and social worker to complete a psychosocial evaluation
- Child life specialist
- School teacher
- Financial counselor
A heart transplant for a child affects the whole family. It also requires ongoing heart transplant care for the rest of the child’s life. That’s why our staff takes the time to educate your family about the entire pediatric heart transplant process, and what to expect should parents choose this option.
Our team members will talk with parents about any concerns or questions they have, and will help identify family and community resources. We’ll give families all the information they need to decide if a pediatric heart transplant is the right option for their child.
Parents should be able to answer the questions below after meeting with the pediatric heart transplant team. Please ask the team to explain anything that you do not understand.
- What are the reasons for a pediatric heart transplant?
- What are the risks and alternatives (other kinds of treatment) of a pediatric heart transplant?
- How long is the pediatric heart transplant process from beginning to end?