LCH heart surgery for children

Child Health | 4 years ago

Our Heart Program Hasn’t Missed a Beat in a Decade

Over the past 10 years, the heart experts at Levine Children’s Hospital have listened to millions of tiny heartbeats and saved thousands of lives. Discover how we’ve built one of the country’s top pediatric heart programs in just a decade.
When Tim Dy’s baby girl Vanilly needed a heart transplant, he knew Levine Children’s Hospital could provide the care his family needed. Ten years ago, he might not have been able to say the same thing.

Back then, the cardiac team performed very few surgeries on children like Vanilly who had severe heart failure. In addition, there wasn’t a designated pediatric cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) at the time, with specialized teams caring for each patient.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary last month, LCH has transformed its cardiac program into a world-class operation. Named a U.S. News & World Report Best Hospital for cardiology and heart surgery for the past several years, LCH transplanted more hearts in children last year than any other program in the Carolinas.

“What we do every day is something that only highly trained programs can do,” says Paul Kirshbom, MD, chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at LCH. “We don’t send any complicated patients away. And we’ve become a program for other places to send their cases.”

Excellence Across the Board

Beyond heart transplants, the hospital has grown to meet the complex needs of patients near and far. LCH now offers several specialty clinics – from pulmonary hypertension to fetal cardiology. Today, two pediatric cardiac radiologists offer every available form of noninvasive imaging at the highest level of quality. 

With its tremendous growth, LCH has been able to develop heart programs tailored just for children. Whereas before the heart catheterization program had to share its laboratory with the adult cardiologists, LCH now has two dedicated pediatric heart catheterization labs. “Thanks to high-quality work and research, our lab is becoming a destination for pediatric cardiologists to visit from across the nation,” says René Herlong, MD, chief of pediatric cardiology at LCH.

Putting Children’s Care in the Best Possible Hands

Today, LCH also has a dedicated CVICU, where pediatric nurses provide around-the-clock care – and where Vanilly spent weeks with a ventricular assist device. This device – which was not available to patients at LCH 10 years ago – functions like an “artificial heart” until a new heart can be transplanted.

Vanilly also spent several weeks in the CVICU following her heart transplant. It was an emotionally demanding time for Tim, watching his daughter recover. Now, she’s a healthy one-year-old, and he’s grateful to share some advice for parents facing similar situations.

“You have to stay positive and keep your hopes high,” says Tim. “And you have to put your faith in the professionals at Levine because they will give your child the best possible care there is.”

Levine Children’s Hospital celebrated its 10th anniversary in December, and we’re highlighting many of the hospital’s top programs and the patients we’ve helped heal. Check the Daily Dose blog to learn more.