AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dell Children’s Medical Center will soon learn if the United Network for Organ Sharing will approve its application to perform pediatric heart transplants in Austin.
“Frankly, for me not to be able to do heart transplants here almost feels like fighting with one arm behind my back,” said Dr. Charles Fraser, the Chief of Pediatric and Cardiothoracic Surgery at Dell Children’s.
He’s been a transplant surgeon for decades but has not been able to provide the service in Austin.
According to Dell Children’s, five to 10 kids have heart failure per year in the Austin area and need to relocate to Dallas or Houston for at least six months to a year to have access to a heart transplant.
Dr. Fraser says the Dell Children’s Pediatric Heart Transplant program will provide the complex level of care families need closer to home.
“The numbers of transplants that we will do will be small by design. We want to avoid a transplant unless it becomes the only option for a patient,” said Dr. Fraser.
The program would complete Dell Children’s Cardiac Care Unit which opened up June 2019.
Since then surgeons have performed over 300 cardiac procedures but no heart transplants yet.
“You can imagine scenarios that are occurring right now — a family in Central Texas with a child that needs some form of transplant, and they have to move their life somewhere else and wait. I mean, it’s brutal,” said Dr. Fraser.
Now he waits to see if the heart transplant program will be approved.
“We know that will help patients in this region a lot,” he said.