Partial heart transplantation for pediatric heart valve dysfunction: A clinical trial protocol

PLoS One. 2023 Feb 7;18(2):e0280163. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280163. eCollection 2023.


Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defects in humans and frequently involve heart valve dysfunction. The current treatment for unrepairable heart valves involves valve replacement with an implant, Ross pulmonary autotransplantation, or conventional orthotopic heart transplantation. Although these treatments are appropriate for older children and adults, they do not result in the same efficacy and durability in infants and young children for several reasons. Heart valve implants do not grow with the. Ross pulmonary autotransplants have a high mortality rate in neonates and are not feasible if the pulmonary valve is dysfunctional or absent. Furthermore, orthotopic heart transplants invariably fail from ventricular dysfunction over time. Therefore, the treatment of irreparable heart valves in infants and young children remains an unsolved problem. The objective of this single-arm, prospective study is to offer an alternative solution based on a new type of transplant, which we call "partial heart transplantation." Partial heart transplantation differs from conventional orthotopic heart transplantation because only the part of the heart containing the heart valve is transplanted. Similar to Ross pulmonary autotransplants and conventional orthotopic heart transplants, partial heart transplants contain live cells that should allow it to grow with the recipient child. Therefore, partial heart transplants will require immunosuppression. The risks from immunosuppression can be managed, as seen in conventional orthotopic heart transplant recipients. Stopping immunosuppression will simply turn the growing partial heart transplant into a non-growing homovital homograft. Once this homograft deteriorates, it can be replaced with a durable adult-sized mechanical implant. The protocol for our single-arm trial is described. The trial registration number is NCT05372757.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aortic Valve / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis Implantation*
  • Heart Valves / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Valve* / transplantation
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data