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Get answers to commonly asked questions about the heart transplant protocol at Children's Hospital Colorado.
You will meet many members of your child's transplant team. Because of the complex nature of the heart transplant process, an entire team of pediatric heart experts is dedicated to your child before, during and after the transplant. Transplant surgeons, doctors, pharmacists and social workers are on call and available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day for transplant services. We also enlist a team of psychologists, dieticians, pathologists and exercise physiologists. In addition, your family will be assigned a transplant coordinator to help make the process easier for your family.
The transplant doctors will thoroughly review your child's information and may recommend additional testing before approving your child for possible transplant. During the medical evaluation, we will draw blood to determine your child's blood type, infection status, and to see if his or her other organs are functioning properly. We will do an echocardiogram to look at the heart function and structure. We may also do a cardiac catheterization to measure the pressures inside the heart.
All families will have a psychosocial evaluation by a social worker to help anticipate any problems that may develop during the waiting period or after transplant. The social worker will provide resources to help your family understand the psychosocial and financial stresses related to transplant. Children 10 years and older will have a psychological evaluation by a psychiatrist to assess any mental health problems.
After all of your child's medical history and transplant information is sent to your insurance company, Children's Hospital Colorado will wait for approval from your insurance company before your child can be listed as a possible transplant recipient. Insurance companies sometimes require further information or testing before they approve a transplant.
The approval process
The heart transplant team meets on a weekly basis to discuss potential candidates. The full approval process can take days to weeks, depending on each individual child.
Patients with the following symptoms or conditions will not be considered transplant candidates and will not qualify for transplant:
Any child on the Denver heart transplant waiting list must live within one hour of Children's Hospital Colorado. If you live further away and have to relocate to the Denver metro area, our social workers can help you find affordable housing. You and your child must remain less than one hour from the hospital for at least three months after the transplant.
The chance of a body rejecting a new organ is highest during the first three months, and we monitor your child closely during this time. If, at the end of three months, your child has not experienced an episode of rejection, then you may return to your hometown. With any episode of rejection your child may be required to stay in the Denver area until he or she is medically stable.
Rejection and infection are the most common complications during heart transplant recovery. The first 24 to 48 hours after transplant can be difficult. Most complications can be taken care of medically, but a trip back to the operating room is a possibility and would be fully discussed with you at that time.
What are the signs of organ rejection during heart transplant recovery?
Please call the transplant assistant at 720-777-3218 or call the main Cardiology number at 720-777-6820 and ask for the transplant team.