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Five decades of pediatric heart transplantation: challenges overcome, challenges remaining

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Purpose of review

Pediatric heart transplants continue to be the therapy of choice for children with end stage heart failure. The interplay of limited donor supply, improvement in ventricular assist device (VAD) technology and utilization, and a focus on optimizing long-term outcomes make it critically important for practitioners to be aware of an evolving diagnostic and therapeutic arsenal.

Recent findings

Data suitable to define best practices for pediatric heart transplantation consist of an amalgam of small single center series, registry reviews and judicious inference from adult studies. Large-scale prospective pediatric studies are essentially nonexistent; the pediatric heart transplant study group continues to be highly productive while new collaboratives are emerging.Summary

Outcomes for pediatric transplants continue to improve. Technology and innovation continue to drive shifts in management. Improvements in VAD support along with refinement of solid-phase assays require clinicians to develop a deeper understanding of pre and post transplant management of donor-specific antibodies and antibody-mediated rejection. Expertise in retransplantation and the care of adults with congenital heart disease will be critical in the future.
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Keywords: antibody-mediated rejection; mechanical circulatory support; pediatric heart transplant

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Heart Transplant and Heart Failure, Phoenix Children's Hospital, Phoenix, Child Health, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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