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Cardiologist examining smiling girl with stethoscope

Program for Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure, and Transplantation

ColumbiaDoctors renowned team provides treatment for children and young adults suffering from cardiomyopathy, heart failure due to cardiomyopathy or congenital heart disease, and those in need of heart transplantation.

Patients come from across the country and throughout the world for our multidisciplinary, family-centered care. We are among the most experienced in the world in pediatric heart transplantation and have the best outcomes—even with high-risk patients—achieving 96 percent overall long-term survival according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

Furthermore, our cardiologists and surgeons shape policy and standards of care on regional, national, and international levels. We are committed to research on cardiomyopathy, heart failure treatment, and transplantation, and actively participate in multiple clinical trials of the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical companies to advance our knowledge of these conditions.

Linda J. Addonizio, MD, directs our Program for Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure, and Transplantation. She was the first pediatric physician elected to the Board of Directors of the International Society of Heart Transplantation and co-founded the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study Group in 1991.

Cardiomyopathy

There are four forms of cardiomyopathy:

  • dilated
  • hypertrophic
  • non-compaction
  • restrictive

Each form requires a different treatment. Our approach includes medication, surgery, cardiac catheterization, genetic evaluation, exercise, and nutritional planning.

When cardiomyopathy has a genetic cause, we provide care for all family members through our Cardiogenetics Clinic led by Teresa Lee, MD, a pediatric cardiologist, geneticist, and active researcher. Our research looks at ways to anticipate and prevent future manifestations of this condition.

In addition, we specialize in the care of children with acquired heart disease that occurs after cancer treatment or viral infections (myocarditis), or in children with rheumatological disorders or muscular dystrophies.

Heart Failure

Heart failure in children may stem from:

  • damage from viral infections
  • diseased heart muscle
  • surgery to repair a congenital heart defect

We customize therapies for children to alleviate or end symptoms, allowing them to return to school and to normal activities. ColumbiaDoctors has innovated both medical and surgical treatments to address heart failure in children, including:

  • We were one of the leaders of the landmark Carvedilol clinical trial for children with heart failure and currently are part of a newer heart failure medication trial.
  • We were among the first in the nation to implant a Berlin Heart EXCOR heart pump in a newborn and also spearheaded the use of two other assist devices for children (Heartmate and PediMag), as well as the use of these pumps for elevated pulmonary vascular resistance and also for muscular dystrophy.
  • Our doctors are currently evaluating the Infant Jarvik 2000 Heart System in a national clinical trial.

Furthermore, our cardiac surgeons are at the forefront of developing and designing mechanical assist devices for infants and small children with heart failure:

  • Ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump that takes over until the child’s own heart recovers. A VAD can also serve as a bridge to transplant. Sometimes a VAD can be implanted percutaneously (beneath the skin) without the major incisions associated with heart surgery.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a short-term device to support the heart and lungs in the very young or in children whose anatomy will not permit a VAD. Our team was among the first in the world to offer this life-saving technology for children.

Our team includes doctors trained to address complex medical conditions. ColumbiaDoctors's Warren Zuckerman, MD, is a specialist in heart failure and transplantation as well as pulmonary hypertension and the performance of exercise catheterizations for diagnosis and treatment of children with heart failure. He is also a founding member of the International Heart Failure Registry through the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation. Sabrina Law, MD, is our medical director for mechanical assist devices.

Heart Transplantation

Our program specializes in transplants for children with end-stage congestive heart failure due to cardiomyopathy and those with complex congenital heart disease who are not candidates for palliative or corrective surgery. Paul Chai, MD, is our surgical director for pediatric cardiac transplantation for ColumbiaDoctors.

In 1984, our surgeons performed the world's first successful pediatric heart transplant on a four-year-old boy with complex congenital heart disease. Since then, we have achieved many milestones:

  • Completed over 500 heart transplants at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, one of the largest pediatric heart transplant centers in the world.
  • Were the first in the nation to perform pediatric heart transplants with donors and recipients of different blood types. This is known as an ABO-incompatible heart transplant.
  • We pioneered the performance of heart transplantation in children with extremely high pulmonary vascular resistance and remain one of the only institutions that will treat these patients.
  • Were the first to perform heart transplants in an effective, single-lung physiology in children and adults, thereby saving them from a riskier heart and lung transplant.
  • Pioneered transplantation in high-risk patients who are not offered heart transplants elsewhere, including patients with complex anatomy like single ventricle with failed Fontan physiology and protein losing enteropathy or pre-sensitized patients who had multiple previous operations.