by Staff Reports September 25, 2014 11:08
The Heart Transplant Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta reached a major milestone early Monday morning, performing its 300th heart transplant since the program’s inception in 1988. The milestone recipient, Brynslet Sellers, 2, of Screven, had been waiting on the transplant list and living at the hospital’s Egleston campus in DeKalb County since March.
“This milestone represents an extraordinary legacy of care,” said Kirk Kanter, M.D., surgical director and one of the program’s founders. “When we started the program in 1988, we could not have imagined the incredible impact it would have in fewer than three decades. Through research and technology advances, we have seen outcomes improve and children with heart defects live longer than before. As we look ahead to our next 300 transplants, the future is bright.”
The program has one of the highest volumes of pediatric heart transplants in the country, averaging about 12 heart transplants per year since 1988. In 2013, the team performed 21 heart transplants, the most the program has done in a single year.
During her seven-month stay at Children’s, Sellers blossomed despite her struggling heart. She was determined to not let the “boo boo on her heart,” as she called it, keep her from participating in patient activities or meeting new people. In February, doctors had discovered Sellers’ enlarged heart and transferred her to Children’s, where she was placed on the transplant waiting list March 12. During the early hours of Sept. 22, Brynslet received her new heart.
“We have been fortunate to care for hundreds of children like Brynslet over the years, giving each of them a new chance at life,” said William Mahle, M.D., the program’s medical director. “We could not be more proud of the multidisciplinary team of cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiologists, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, pharmacists, child-life specialists and many others who contributed throughout our program’s 26-year history to reach this achievement.”