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UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh established the nation’s first pediatric transplant center in 1981 under the guidance of transplant pioneer Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD. The hospital has performed more pediatric transplants than any other pediatric transplant center. The pediatric transplant program, which achieves patient survival rates that are among the highest in the world, includes:
Children’s also is recognized as a leader in pediatric transplantation-related research.
The hospital’s experience with small bowel transplantation illustrates the impact that better anti-rejection drugs and other advances have had on the outcomes of pediatric transplant patients. A small bowel transplant presents one of the more challenging recoveries of all transplant procedures. The introduction of FK506 made small bowel transplants feasible in the early 1990s, offering lower organ rejection rates than the earlier immunosuppressant, cyclosporine. Even with FK506, long-term survival was difficult to achieve among early patients, a fact reflected in the procedure’s overall survival rate of about 50 percent.
After 1995, Children’s made important changes that greatly improved the outcomes of small bowel and other transplant patients. These included the use of FK506 along with the steroid, prednisone, and other drugs and better tools for diagnosing and treating infections early on.
Five-year survival rates for small bowel patients improved to nearly 75 percent. And more than 80 percent of these young patients returned to school within three years following their surgeries.
More recently, doctors at Children’s began using drug therapies that eliminate prednisone from the treatment of many pediatric transplant patients. The new approach has contributed to shorter hospital stays, fewer post-surgical complications, and other favorable outcomes. Avoiding long-term steroid use also prevents side effects, such as stunted growth, hirsutism (facial and body hair) and gum enlargement, which can make it difficult for children to adjust to life at home and school.
Pediatric hospitals and transplant centers also offer a range of other services to help children and their families cope with the rigors of transplantation and all that their recoveries demand.
At Children’s, these pediatric services include instruction on caring for children at home, and access to social workers, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, and others who can help with the physical, emotional, social, educational and even the financial challenges of pediatric transplantation. The hospital also runs camps — Camp Chihopi, Camp Courage, Camp Escape, and Heart Camp — that give pediatric transplant patients a chance to spend a weekend outdoors with other children who are transplant recipients.
That the children are able to spend a weekend at camp is evidence of the quality of life they can hope to enjoy after pediatric transplant and the potential of every donor organ.
For detailed information about pediatric transplant services provided at Children’s Hospital, please visit the department-specific links listed on the left of this page or the links below:
For information or to refer a patient for transplant evaluation, please call the appropriate program phone number listed below.
Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant
Pediatric Heart and Lung Transplant
Pediatric Kidney Transplant
Pediatric Liver Transplant
Pediatric Intestine Transplant
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.