AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dell Children’s Medical Center announced Monday it had successfully performed a partial heart transplant on an 11-month-old boy, marking the first of its kind in Texas and the seventh worldwide. The surgery was performed June 23 at the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children’s, done in coordination with UT Health Austin.
Dell Children’s described a partial heart transplant as a procedure where heart valves are taken from a donor heart “not suitable for full transplantation.” Instead, the living valves grow with the pediatric patient, in turn leading to a possible life expectancy increase.
“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 Med, in the release.
Elias Robinson-Rodriquez is the 11-month-old recipient of the partial heart transplant, which was performed during an 11-hour surgery. He was born with a congenital heart defect referred to as transposition, which obstructs the part of the heart that pumps blood out to the body.
While he previously underwent surgery on the valve, it narrowed and didn’t open fully following the operation. Hospital officials said he is “showing remarkable improvement” from this latest procedure, which was his third open heart surgery.
Only three other U.S. institutions have successfully performed a pediatric partial heart transplant: Duke University, Columbia University and Medical University of South Carolina.
“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 at the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, in the release.
Fraser added the successful surgery opens up possibilities for thousands of other babies navigating congenital heart conditions.