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Children treated by the Solid Organ Transplant Program at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children will benefit greatly from the expansion of the hospital. A brand-new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where liver and kidney transplant patients stay immediately after surgery, will have single-patient rooms with space for the latest technologies. After their stay in the PICU, the child will be moved to a bed in the Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Unit that offers a protective environment with double HEPA filtered air for children whose immune systems have been compromised. Both the PICU and acute care environment will offer privacy for the patient and family and support better infection control.
Children undergoing organ transplantation are among the sickest in the hospital. Transplant surgery is extremely complex and with our expansion, Nemours will be even better equipped to care for children who require all of our resources for a successful recovery.
Pediatric organ transplantation was first approved as a therapy for organ failure in early 1980s, and with improvements in surgical techniques, better organ preservation, a fair system of organ allocation, and development of more effective anti-rejection medications (with fewer side effects), there is now a survival rate of 80% or more in children for liver and kidney transplantation and a 70% survival rate in heart transplants.
The Solid Organ Transplant Program was initiated at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in 2000, with nearly 130 transplants performed since then. About 40% of children receiving transplants are under the age of five. More than 40% of transplants in our program are from “live-related” donors such as parents or other relatives. These have a lower rate of rejection. Many advances have been made in transplant surgery. Originally, the entire organ was transplanted. Today, it is often only one lobe.
The transplant team at duPont Hospital includes a surgeon, social worker, transplant coordinator, and a specialist in liver, heart, or kidney disease. Children undergoing organ transplantation are cared for in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for the first 4-5 days and then move to an acute care bed for a week or less in most cases. Children receiving a heart transplant receive care in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at first and are then moved to the cardiac step-down unit. Many departments and services of the hospital are involved in the child’s care, including operating room, nursing, laboratory, medical imaging, therapeutic services, nutrition, pharmacy, financial coordinator, social work, and Child Life.
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