Outcomes from three decades of infant and pediatric heart transplantation


Cardiac Surgery, Advocate Children's Hospital


Infants are a unique transplant population due to a suspected immunologic advantage, in addition to differences in size and physiology. Consequently, we expect infants to have significantly different diagnoses, comorbidities, and outcomes than pediatric transplant recipients. In this study, we compare patterns and trends in pediatric and infant heart transplantation during three decades. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database was queried for transplants occurring between January 1990 and December 2018. Patients were categorized as pediatric (1-17) or infant (0-1). Congenital heart disease (CHD) primary diagnoses have increased from 37% to 42% in pediatric patients (p = 0.001) and decreased from 80% to 61% in infants during the 1990s and 2010s (p < 0.001). Those with CHD had worse outcomes in both age groups (p < 0.001). Infants who underwent ABO-incompatible transplants had similar survival as compared to those with compatible transplants (p = 0.18). Overall, infants had better long-term survival and long-term graft survival than pediatric patients; however, they had worse short-term survival (p < 0.001). Death due to rejection or graft failure was less likely in infants (p = 0.034). However, death from infection was over twice as common (p < 0.001). In summary, pediatric and infant heart transplant recipients differ in diagnoses, comorbidities, and outcomes, necessitating different care for these populations.

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