Heart Transplant Transition Program

Between ages 18 to 26, young adults start to take ownership of their health and transition to adult care.

The Heart Transplant Transition Program at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh can help with this process.

Our care team works with teens and young adults — and their families — early on in the process. This makes the transition time easier.

Contact the Heart Transplant Transition Program at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

To make an appointment to discuss transitioning to adult care or to ask, call the Heart and Lung Transplant Program at 412-692-5541.

To learn more, view a webinar about Improving Transition Care for Our Heart Transplant Patients.

What Makes the Transition to Adult Care Complex?

The transition to adult care comes with some challenges. This is a high-risk time when young adults may neglect their care, which can lead to preventable health problems.

  • Learning curve. For years, parents manage their child's care. When a young adult shifts to adult care, they need to know about their own health history. They have to learn how to advocate for their own health and who to call to manage their care or ask questions.
  • Personal and social challenges. Teens and young adults look to their friends for support. A young adult with a heart transplant has unique health needs that peers in their teens and early 20s may not grasp. During this time, they risk skipping medications or follow-up appointments.
  • New care team. The transfer to adult care means you have new doctors you have to get to know and share your history with. You still have access to your UPMC Children's heart transplant doctors if you have questions or need help.

UPMC Children's has a dedicated adolescent to adult transition health clinic to address the unique needs that may arise during this time.

Young adults and their families also have access to children's transplant:

  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Child life experts
  • Finance counselors

How Does UPMC Help You Shift From Childhood to Adult Heart Transplant Care?

This is an exciting time, but also a little scary. It's vital to feel at ease and cared for during this change.

Although adult care takes a different approach, it's essential to maintain follow-up appointments for long-term wellness. Handling the change —and challenges that come with it — can feel overwhelming.

UPMC helps you prepare early and stays with you throughout the transition.

Our care team starts talking to kids and their families starting at age 13 to:

  • Teach them about their health based on their stage of development.
  • Foster a sense of ownership and empower them to feel confident in managing their care themselves — with caregiver oversight.
  • Track goals and progress to make sure young adults are ready to move into adult care.

We educate teens and young adults on heart transplant-related care including:

  • Basic disease knowledge.
  • The medicines they take, and their side effects.
  • Routine care and how to watch for complications.
  • Signs that may mean they need urgent care.
  • Dental and exercise guidance.
  • Pregnancy and birth control.
  • High-risk behaviors that can affect their health.