Survival after listing for cardiac transplantation in children

Prog Pediatr Cardiol. 2000 Jun 1;11(2):99-105. doi: 10.1016/s1058-9813(00)00041-2.


Despite improvement in surgical and medical management of children with congenital and acquired heart disease, cardiac transplantation remains an important therapeutic option for infants and children with end-stage heart disease. Ultimate survival in patients who are listed for transplantation is a function of both mortality while awaiting transplantation and survival after transplantation. Survival of heart transplantation is affected by the severity of illness before transplantation, the unique pathophysiology of certain defects, and the availability of donor hearts. Outcome following listing for transplantation is best studied with the use of recent modifications in statistical methods of competing outcomes analysis. By this analysis a predicted mortality while waiting among all pediatric patients is 20% at 1 year, with 67% undergoing transplantation, 10% still on the list awaiting transplant, and 3% removed from the list. Among infants, most of them with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, 60% will have transplantation by 6 months after listing, with 27% of patients dying while waiting. In infants the major risk factors for death while waiting are the need for inotropic support at listing, smaller size, and recipient blood type. In older children risk factors for death while waiting are Status 1 at listing and a need for mechanical ventilation. Intermediate-term survival after transplant is excellent in all age groups with 86% alive at 6 months, 84% at 1 year, and 73% at 5 years. Survival after transplant in infants is comparable to survival in older children, although the early mortality after transplantation is greater. Infants who have recently undergone sternotomy or received organs from donors who did not die of closed head trauma are more likely to die early after transplant. Among older children risk factors for death after transplantation include the need for a mechanical support device or a younger age in patients greater than 1 year of age. Death following transplantation is primarily related to early graft failure in infants, whereas rejection, infection, and sudden death account for the majority of deaths in older children. Although improved immunosuppressive agents promise to lead to even better survival rates after transplantation, greater access to donors is essential if overall survival is to be improved.