December 03, 2014 06:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
AURORA, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Children’s Hospital Colorado’s (Children’s Colorado) Heart Institute pediatric heart transplant team recently performed its 400th successful heart transplant on seven-month-old patient Juniper Gelrod.
“We owe her life to this place and to the team.”
At just two weeks old, Juniper was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease that weakens and enlarges the two lower chambers of the heart, thus lessening the amount of blood that is pumped out of the heart to the rest of the body. Cardiomyopathy affects thousands of children in the U.S. and is the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in children.
A team of doctors from the Heart Institute operated on Juniper in April to implant a Berlin Heart, making her one of the youngest and smallest patients at Children’s Colorado to receive this ventricular assist device that does the work for her sick heart. She lived at the hospital for six months, five of those months with the Berlin Heart, before undergoing a heart transplant.
“The Heart Institute team rooted for Juniper every step of the way. They explained everything so thoroughly and included us in the decisions surrounding her care,” said Joni Schrantz, Juniper’s mom. “We owe her life to this place and to the team.”
The Heart Institute’s pediatric heart transplant program is one of the largest in the nation and has seen tremendous success since it began in 1990. For the past 24 years, patients from Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Utah, Arizona, Nebraska and South Dakota have received heart transplants at Children’s Colorado. The Heart Institute is a leader in heart transplantation for babies, kids and teens with excellent survival rates.
“Only 40 percent of babies with complex heart conditions are diagnosed before birth. This makes it critical for infants born with complex heart conditions to receive immediate support from a team of pediatric specialists with expertise managing congenital heart conditions,” said Dr. James Jaggers, cardiothoracic surgeon and co-medical director of the Heart Institute at Children’s Colorado. “No other program in our region offers the depth of expertise available through our Heart Institute, or the pediatric specialty support available at Children’s Hospital Colorado.”
Dr. Jaggers added that the Heart Institute has surgical and quality metric outcomes that exceed local and national benchmarks. According to national comparison data from the Society of Thoracic Surgery, the Heart Institute’s survival outcomes after heart surgery are consistently better than the national average, and the hospital’s average length of stay for all heart surgeries is lower.
“We got to take Juniper home eight days after she received her new heart. Walking out the doors of the hospital into the ‘real world’ after six months presented new challenges and opportunities,” said Schrantz. “We had a happy ending and a new beginning as a normal family. Sitting outside on our patio the day we got home was something so small, but so huge!”
For Heart Institute infographic: http://www.childrenscolorado.org/about/news/2014/400th-heart-transplant
About Children’s Hospital Colorado
Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) has defined and delivered pediatric health care excellence for more than 100 years. Founded in 1908, Children’s Colorado is a leading pediatric network entirely devoted to the health and well-being of children. Continually acknowledged as one of the nation’s top ten Best Children’s Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and Parents magazine, Children’s Colorado is known for both its nationally and internationally recognized medical, research, education and advocacy programs, as well as comprehensive everyday care for kids throughout Colorado and surrounding states. Children’s Colorado also is recognized for excellence in nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Centers and has been designated a Magnet® hospital since 2005. The hospital’s family-centered, collaborative approach combines the nation’s top pediatric doctors, nurses and researchers to pioneer new approaches to pediatric medicine. With urgent, emergency and specialty care locations throughout Metro Denver and Southern Colorado, including its campus on the Anschutz Medical Campus, Children’s Colorado provides a full spectrum of pediatric specialties. For more information, visit and connect with Children’s Colorado on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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