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Children’s Minnesota launches dedicated pediatric heart transplant program

Children’s Minnesota is proud to announce it has received certification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its Heart Failure and Heart Transplant (HFHT) program. Children’s Minnesota’s HFHT program is among the most comprehensive pediatric cardiology programs in the region. When it comes to treating heart failure in children, we offer a comprehensive approach that includes: heart failure medications, ventricular assist devices (VADs) and heart transplant.

“We knew we needed to add heart transplant capabilities in order to better serve and care for our patients,” said Dr. Erik Edens, medical director of the Heart Failure and Heart Transplant program. “Our program is dedicated to treating pediatric cardiovascular patients, we will now be able to offer the specialized expertise needed to care for patients throughout every stage of their journey.”

The Children’s Minnesota cardiovascular program has made strides over the last several years to prepare for the CMS certification.

Children's Minnesota employee with heart patient
Children's Minnesota heart failure heart transplant staff

The program launched in 2018, after receiving Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network certification. The first heart transplant surgery at Children’s Minnesota was performed later that year. Since then, Children’s Minnesota has successfully completed six transplants. As part of the HFHT program, Children’s Minnesota also began offering ventricular assist device (VAD) therapies as a bridge-to-transplant for kids waiting for a donor heart.

“Our goal is to become a nationally recognized cardiovascular institute,” said Elizabeth Wagner, APRN, CNP, DNP, director, cardiovascular services. “Our superior cardiac outcomes now coupled with having a formal pediatric transplant program puts us in an excellent position to continue to grow and expand our program and care for additional children in our region.”

Timeline of events

Children’s Minnesota is now certified for our Heart Failure and Heart Transplant program, and we’d like to take a look back and reflect on how we got to the place we are today.

February 2018: New pediatric cardiologist announced

Children’s Minnesota announced that Dr. Erik Edens, MD, PhD, was hired.

June 2018: Heart Failure and Heart Transplant program goes live

Children’s Minnesota received certification from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). This new certification allows Children’s Minnesota to list its first patient for a heart transplant. In addition, we are developing the ventricular assist devices (VADs), which are an important component of the program.

August 2018: HFHT program reaches new milestone

The Children’s Minnesota Heart Failure and Heart Transplant Program reached two milestones: Listed its first two patients for heart transplants and completed an open-heart surgery to implant a VAD as a bridge to transplant for a patient with heart failure.

December 2018: First heart transplant completed

To build on the success of the first VAD implantation, Children’s Minnesota HFHT team has implanted two different types of VADs in heart failure patients.

December 2019: HFHT program prepares to meet final milestone

Since December 2018, Children’s Minnesota performed six transplants and, in December 2019, our request for a certification survey from CMS was submitted.

January & August 2020: Mayo Clinic – Children’s Minnesota Cardiovascular Collaborative

Children’s Minnesota and Mayo Clinic Children’s Center collaborate in the care of children with congenital heart disease to better serve our patients and families. The Mayo Clinic – Children’s Minnesota Cardiovascular Collaborative shares clinical talent and resources to provide the highest quality pediatric cardiology and cardiovascular surgery services to patients throughout the country. The cardiovascular surgery agreement commenced in January 2020. The comprehensive pediatric cardiology agreement launched in August 2020.

January 2021: CMS site visit

Surveyors visited Children’s Minnesota Minneapolis hospital to review the conditions of participation on January 4, 2021.

February 23, 2021: Children’s Minnesota receives CMS certification for HFHT program

Children’s Minnesota received CMS certification following the January 2021 site visit. This dedicated pediatric heart transplant program at Children’s Minnesota is among the most comprehensive pediatric cardiology programs in the region.

Children’s Minnesota Heart Failure and Heart Transplant program

The Children’s Minnesota Heart Failure and Heart Transplant (HFHT) program was launched in 2018. The addition of the HFHT services has allowed Children’s Minnesota to provide the most comprehensive pediatric cardiac care to children in the region.

Since the inception of the program, there have been 26 patients listed for transplant, 125 heart failure consults and six heart transplants. We continue to provide the most state-of-the-art care in our heart failure and heart transplant patients.

Alexandra Rothstein