Early report from the Pediatric Heart Transplant Society on COVID-19 infections in pediatric heart transplant candidates and recipients

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2022 Mar;41(3):327-333. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2021.11.003. Epub 2021 Nov 19.


Background: Reports focused on adult heart transplant (HTx) recipients with COVID-19 suggest an increased risk of severe disease, however; it is unclear if this holds true for pediatric HTx patients, given the typically milder course of illness in children in general with COVID-19. We sought to rapidly implement a system for multi-center data collection on pediatric HTx candidates and recipients, with the aim of describing the patient population and infection related outcomes.

Methods: The Pediatric Heart Transplant Society (PHTS) is a multi-center collaboration that seeks to improve the outcomes of children who are listed and undergo HTx. The society consists of pediatric HTx centers in North America (n = 53), UK (n = 2), and Brazil (n = 1). In response to the pandemic, PHTS developed a web-based platform to collect COVID-19 specific data on pediatric HTx candidates and recipients. Non-PHTS centers were also invited to submit data. Data fields included pre-and post-HTx patient characteristics, presumed versus documented infection, need for hospitalization (including ICU and ventilator use), treatments administered, and 30-day outcome (resolution, death, sequelae, and or unresolved) RESULTS: Data collection was initiated on 4/30/20. As of 03/15/21 there were 225 patients [19 pre-HTx and 206 post-HTx, median age 14 years (IQR 7, 18)] reported from 41 centers. Hospitalization occurred in 42% (n = 8) of the pre-HTx and 21% (n=43) of the post-HTx patients. Among the patients listed for HTx, 21% (n = 4) required ICU and 10.5% (n = 2) were mechanically ventilated. Among post-HTx patients, 7% (n = 14) required ICU and 1% (n = 3) were mechanically ventilated. At 30 days, the majority of patients had resolution of symptoms (94.7% pre-HTx, 95.6% post-HTx). One death was reported in a post-HTx patient prior to 30 days from onset of COVID-19 illness.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate the ability to rapidly adapt the PHTS data collection infrastructure in response to a novel infection and represent the first known multi-center report of characteristics and early outcomes for patients listed and following pediatric HTx with COVID-19. Hospitalization appears to be more common for both candidates and recipients due to COVID-19 than for the general pediatric population though stays were short and mortality minimal.

Keywords: COVID-19; candidates; heart transplant; pediatric; recipients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / virology*