Neonatal heart transplant outcomes: A single institutional experience

Published:January 22, 2021DOI:



      Neonatal orthotopic heart transplantation was introduced in the 1980s as a treatment for complex congenital heart disease. Progress in single-ventricle palliation and biventricular correction has resulted in a decline in neonatal heart transplant volume. However, limited reports on neonatal heart transplants have demonstrated favorable outcomes. We report the long-term outcomes of patients with neonatal heart transplants at our institution spanning nearly 30 years.


      A retrospective analysis of neonatal heart transplants and neonates listed for transplant was performed at Children's Hospital Colorado. Primary outcomes were early and late survival. Secondary outcomes were rejection episodes, retransplantation, and development of cardiac allograft vasculopathy or post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease.


      A total of 21 neonates underwent orthotopic heart transplantation at our institution. Among these, 10 neonates were transplanted from 1991 to 2000, 8 neonates were transplanted from 2001 to 2010, and 3 neonates were transplanted from 2011 to 2020. The average age of these patients was 17 days, and the average weight was 3.43 kg. Early survival was 95.2%. Survival at 1 and 5 years was 85.7% (confidence interval [CI], 61.9%-95.2%) and 75% (CI, 45.6%-85.5%), respectively. Of eligible patients, the 10-year and 20-year survival was 72.2% (CI, 45.1%-85.3%) and 50% (CI, 25.9%-70.1%), respectively.


      Our institution reports favorable outcomes of neonatal heart transplantation. These results should be considered within the context of outcomes for patients awaiting transplant and the limited donor availability. However, the successful nature of these procedures suggest it may be necessary to reevaluate the indications for neonatal heart transplantation, particularly where risk of mortality and morbidity with palliative or corrective surgery is high.

      Graphical abstract

      Key Words

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      CAV (cardiac allograft vasculopathy), DCD (donation after circulatory death), PTLD (post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease)
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