Texas Children's Hospital Discharges History-Making Teen Patient Again; This Time with a Transplanted Heart Replacing Mechanical Device


HOUSTON - (Feb. 12, 2010) - The wait is over for 16-year-old Francisco"Frank" De Santiago. On January 29, De Santiago received a donor heart in asuccessful nine-hour transplant operation at Texas Children's Heart Center. DeSantiago made medicalhistory last October for being the first child ever discharged from a pediatrichospital with an implanted mechanical heart pump, or intracorporeal ventricularassist device (VAD). Until then, pediatric patients with mechanical heartdevices remained in the hospital, often in intensive care, while awaiting adonor heart.

"Frank's surgery went extremely well; he was a much better candidate for aheart transplant now than eight months ago when his heart was failing," saidDr. David L.S. Morales, pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at Texas Children'sHeart Center who implanted Frank's device last May and performed his recentheart transplant. "The device improved his physical health and allowed him bedischarged so he could enjoy some normal teen activity during the wait for adonor heart. Texas Children's is leading the way in using five different typesof VAD technology to help pediatric patients enhance their quality of life andoutlook so they are better prepared for their transplant surgery."

De Santiago will continue to reside in Houston and undergo rehabilitation andfollow-up check-ups for three months before returning to his home in southTexas. He calls his heart "a gift" and is learning how to care for himself andhis new organ.

Morales said about 450 pediatric heart transplants occur annually in the UnitedStates; yet the number of pediatric heart failure cases diagnosed annuallycontinues to rise. He believes that the future of pediatric heart care residesin VAD technology and Texas Children's Heart Center uses the most of anypediatric hospital in the country.

"Heart failure in children is now being diagnosed at an increased rate," saidDr. Jeffrey Dreyer, medical director of cardiac transplantation at TexasChildren's Hospital. "Advances in VAD technology provide new opportunities fortreatment and recovery. Prior to VADs, a significant number of pediatric heartfailure patients did not survive long enough to receive a heart transplant. Weare fortunate to have this technology and expertise at Texas Children's."

Frank De Santiago was transferred to Texas Children's Hospital from south Texasafter experiencing a temporary stroke. He was diagnosed with dilatedcardiomyopathy, a condition in which his heart was enlarged to more than twicea normal size and could not pump blood efficiently. The Texas Children's HeartCenter physician team placed him on the heart transplant list and concluded hewas an excellent candidate for the HeartMate II VAD that could keep him aliveuntil a suitable donor heart became available.

Texas Children's Hospital is the first pediatric hospital in the world to usethe HeartMate II in pediatric patients with a body surface area of at least 1.3square meters. The device, about the size of two "D" cell batteries laidend-to-end, received U. S. Food and Drug Administration approval on April 26,2008. Since then, Morales, also director of the Pediatric MechanicalCirculatory Support Program, has implanted the HeartMate II in five teen orpre-teen patients. All patients experienced improved heart health on thedevice, which allowed them to live until donor hearts became available.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.