For some kids with heart problems, medications and surgeries aren’t enough – they need a new heart. If this is the case for your child, we know it can be scary. And we’re here to support you with expert and compassionate care, every step of the way.

Atrium Health Levine Children’s has the only pediatric transplant program in our region, and we have deep expertise performing this complex procedure. We work closely with LifeShare Carolinas, which serves as the link between patients who need transplants and the donors who make those transplants possible. We also take extra steps to make this procedure as easy on your child as possible and put them on track toward a healthier, happier life.

Make an appointment

To learn more about pediatric heart transplant at Levine Children’s, contact us at 704-373-1813.

Heart transplants at Levine Children’s

A heart transplant is a major decision that can give kids an opportunity for a more typical childhood. Our transplant process starts with extensive screening, where a team of pediatric specialists including cardiologists, electrophysiologists, surgeons, social workers and other experts evaluate your child’s medical history to ensure a transplant is the right choice.

If your child is a good transplant candidate, we’ll put them on the waiting list for a new heart. When needed, we use heart pumps like ventricular assist devices (VAD) to help a child’s heart beat strong until a new heart is available. These pumps can support some kids’ hearts for years.

When it's time for surgery, your child is in expert hands: U.S. News and World Report ranks Levine Children’s Hospital among the best hospitals in the nation for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery. Our team uses the latest tools and techniques to make sure transplants go as smoothly as possible. And we’ll continue to support your child for years after their surgery, into adulthood.

Making transplants an option for more children

We work to make sure as many kids as possible are eligible for heart transplants, using tools like:

  • Desensitization. Previously, some children weren’t candidates for heart transplants because they had built-up antibodies (proteins that attack foreign substances in the body) after having multiple blood transfusions. While these antibodies are supposed to protect against foreign substances like bacteria, they may also see a new, healthy heart as an invader. Antibodies may attack the heart, causing the body to “reject” it – but our team can help through a process called desensitization. We use chemotherapy to “erase” cells’ memories so they don’t attack the new heart.
  • ABO-incompatible transplants. Heart transplants typically require a donor of the same blood type, but our team is now offering a way to transplant from different blood types in babies under a year old. Because young babies are still developing, doctors can “trick” their system into thinking the heart is the right blood type – helping more babies get the transplants they need.

Supportive services

  • Camp LUCK. This free summer camp is for kids with heart conditions and their siblings. Camp LUCK helps children build a community with other kids who are having similar experiences.

  • The HEARTest Yard. This program provides in-home nursing support for children and families as they transition from the hospital to their home. It’s funded by the Greg Olsen Foundation and was launched after the former Carolina Panthers football player and his wife, Kara, had a baby with a severe heart defect.

  • Cardiac neurodevelopmental program. Having heart surgery as a baby may affect your child’s brain development later in life. Our neurodevelopmental program will monitor your child for years after their surgery. We make sure their learning and development are on track and help them through any challenges that arise.

  • Pastoral care. Our chaplains offer religious and spiritual support when families request a visit.

  • Child life specialists. These specialists help kids and families prepare for medical procedures and recover through games and play.

  • Nurse navigators. These nurses support and build close relationships with each patient and family. They become experts on each child’s condition and medical history, teach parents at-home care, attend appointments to answer questions, discuss treatments and more.

  • Nutritionists. Our nutritionists make sure kids have a balanced diet and are getting the nutrients they need to stay strong.

  • Social workers. They help families cope by connecting them with things like counseling, support groups and financial assistance.

Why choose Levine Children's?

  • Experience. Our team has been doing heart transplants on children for over 30 years, and we have surgeons who specialize in pediatric heart transplants. This experience helps us know when a transplant is the right option for your child, so we can give them the best chance at an excellent outcome.

  • Comprehensive team: Heart transplants require many doctors, like surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiologists and more. We have all these experts on our team, and they work together to help your child have a successful transplant. This starts with keeping kids as strong as possible before their transplant. After the surgery, we stay by your child’s side to monitor their heart and keep them healthy, all the way through adulthood. We also work in close partnership with Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute - home to world-renowned heart care specialists.

  • Care beyond the heart. We don’t just support your family through surgery – we support you through every part of your child's illness. Whether you need financial assistance or help finding accommodations near the hospital, we’re here for you.

  • Research and partnerships. Our team is involved in many research projects that are finding new ways to help kids like yours. This includes working with groups like the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study, Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium and ACTION Learning Network to improve heart transplant procedures and recovery.

  • Lifelong care. Our first goal is to help your child have a successful surgery, but that’s only one part of your heart journey. We’ll monitor your child’s heart for years after transplant and give them all the care they need to stay strong. We’ll also connect them with specialists like physical therapists and brain development experts to help them thrive as they grow.

Megan EdneyDr WallisDr Maxey

Solving a mystery and saving a life with a new heart

When 14-year-old Megan Edney had severe stomach pain, her care team discovered something they never expected: heart failure. Find out how her doctors found the underlying cause of her health problems – and how less than a week later a heart transplant saved her life.

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The HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center

1001 Blythe Blvd, Suite 500
Charlotte, NC 28203

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