New hospital unit opens to treat children with potentially deadly heart conditions in Central Texas

Simple Health

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin is now home to the first dedicated pediatric cardiac care unit in Central Texas.

The 24-bed unit at Dell Children’s Medical Center officially opened Tuesday. It will treat more infants, children and adolescents with the most serious heart conditions with state-of-the art technology.

Coffey family
The Coffey family at the opening of Dell Children’s Medical Center’s new pediatric cardiac care unit (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)

Dr. Carlos Mery, a congenital heart surgeon at Dell Children’s Medical Center, says the new unit is needed so families of children with congenital and acquired heart conditions do not have to travel to another city to seek treatment.

“Before, the family would have to leave Austin, uproot the family for about six months, which is the time it takes between the first operation or the 2nd operation, and go to Houston or Dallas for care, so that’s not the case anymore,” he says.

“Congenital heart disease overall affects about 1 in 100 births, so it is not that uncommon,” explains Dr. Mery.

The new unit is part of the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease first created in September 2018 at Dell Children’s with the help of Dr. Mery after noticing a demand in Austin for specialized care.

pediatric room
A room at Dell Children’s Medical Center’s pediatric cardiac care unit (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)

“There’s a huge need,” Mery says. “A reflection of that is, since we started the program, we’ve been seeing patients and operating non-stop.”

The Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease is a pediatric and congenital heart program through a partnership between Dell Children’s Medical Center, Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin and UT Health Austin, the clinical practice of Dell Medical School.

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