Sick Kids celebrates 15 years of heart transplantation

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Staff and patients recently celebrated 15 years of clinical and research advances in heart transplantation at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids). Since the Sick Kids Cardiac Transplant Program began in 1990, over 155 heart transplants have been performed at the hospital, establishing Sick Kids as one of the largest paediatric heart transplant centres in North America.

Sick Kids performs on average 10 to 15 heart transplants each year, accounting for more than 80 per cent of Canada’s paediatric heart transplants. The Cardiac Transplant Program offers a multi-disciplinary approach team that places special emphasis on post-transplant care to ensure better outcomes, improved quality of life and a higher survival rate among transplant patients.

In 1996, groundbreaking research by Dr. Lori West, section head of theSick Kids Cardiac Transplant Program, led to the discovery that infants could safely and successfully accept heart transplants of a different blood type, also known as an ABO-incompatible heart transplant. This innovative approach has vastly improved the organ donor crisis for infants worldwide, contributing to a decrease in wait times for a donor heart and deaths of infants on the waiting list. Twenty-four children at Sick Kids and 56 children around the world have received ABO-incompatible heart transplants.