Dell Children's Medical Center heart transplant care team became a part of Texas history when they performed the first partial heart transplant in the state on an 11-month-old boy. This is the seventh known pediatric partial heart transplant in the world.
Elias Robinson-Rodriquez was born with a congenital heart defect condition called transposition of the great arteries with obstruction of the part of the heart that pumps blood to the body. Doctors suggested Elias have surgery to fix his heart valve, but the valve between the lower left heart chamber and the body's main artery (aorta) was narrowed and didn't open fully. This defect reduced or blocked blood flow from the heart to the aorta and the rest of the body.
To treat his condition, doctors needed to replace Elias' heart valves. On June 23, he had an 11-hour partial heart transplant surgery. This transplant procedure used the heart valves from a donor's heart unsuitable for full transplantation. The goal is to allow the harvested living valves to grow with him over time, potentially increasing life expectancy.
"Our team is excited about this procedure. It has the potential to change the paradigm of valve surgery in pediatric heart disease. This potentially life-saving surgery can make use of a donated heart that would otherwise not be transplantable," said Dr. Carlos Mery, surgical director of the Heart Transplant Program at Dell Children's and Associate Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Surgery and Perioperative Care at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.
The landmark surgery was performed at The Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children's, in partnership with UT Health Austin, the clinical practice of Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.
"This is a milestone procedure. A partial transplant allows surgeons to tap into a supply of donor hearts that go unused due to deficiencies. We are thrilled with Elias' progress, and we are hopeful this will eliminate the need for future surgeries," said Dr. Chesney Castleberry, medical director of the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program and Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Chesney Castleberry and Dr. Carlos Mery lead Dell Children's heart transplant team. The team includes nationally recognized pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Charles Fraser, Jr., highly skilled and experienced specialists, including pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, perfusionists, transplant coordinators, advanced-practice providers, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers, child life specialists, physical and occupational therapists – all providing unparalleled care for patients.
"Our ability to perform this surgery is a major step in Dell Children's effort to provide innovative, life-changing care for the most complex cardiac cases in the region," said Dr. Charles Fraser, Jr., Chief of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery, Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease. "This groundbreaking surgery provides hope for thousands of babies with congenital heart defects and amplifies the way we can use the gift of organ donation to save more lives."
Since the surgery, Elias has improved, and his family's outlook remains strong. He will continue to receive ongoing follow-up care and monitoring at Dell Children's.
Leading pediatric heart transplants in Central Texas
If your child needs a heart transplant, we're here for your family. The heart transplant program at Dell Children's is the first pediatric heart transplant program in Central Texas. Our heart transplant teams provide advanced heart care that improves your child's heart function and quality of life. To learn more about heart transplant care, call 855-324-0091.