Evaluation Process

Each child who is referred to Texas Children's Heart Transplant Program is thoroughly evaluated by cardiologists and surgeons at the Heart Center. This evaluation period is critical in determining whether a patient needs a heart transplant or will be referred to other programs within the Heart Center for treatment.

Consultation and testing

The evaluation requires 2 to 3 days of consultations and testing. This may be inpatient or outpatient based on your child’s medical condition. Generally, the evaluation consists of the following tests:

  • Chest x-ray: A chest X-ray takes a picture of the patient's heart and lungs.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): An EKG gives a reading based on the electrical activity of the heart, measuring its rhythm and heartbeat. 
  • Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram is an ultrasound that produces pictures of particular areas inside the heart. The pictures will be displayed on a screen and used to study the patient's heart.
  • Cardiac catheterization:  For this test, a catheter or a thin, plastic tube, is inserted into the heart through an artery or vein in the neck or groin to measure heart pressures and take pictures to further evaluate the patient's heart.
  • Blood tests including tissue typing, HIV and hepatitis panel
  • Urine and stool studies
  • Skin testing for tuberculosis
  • Cardiology evaluation
  • Cardiovascular surgeon evaluation
  • Infectious disease and immune system evaluation
  • Nutrition evaluation
  • Social work evaluation
  • Neuropsychological evaluation
  • Pharmacological evaluation
  • Physical and occupational therapy evaluation
  • Child life specialist evaluation
  • Dentist

Medical review

Once these consultations and tests are complete, all potential transplant candidates will be presented to the Medical Review Board. Members include representatives from cardiology, the cardiovascular transplant surgical team, the transplant nursing staff, dietitians, social workers, child life specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists and financial services staff. Board members will decide if a heart transplant is a good option for your child. You will be notified of their decision after the meeting by the transplant coordinator and by letter from the review board.