Joe Dimaggio Children’s Hospital receives federal approval to open Pediatric Heart Transplant Program

The Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiac Transplant team includes (l-r) Maryanne Chrisant, MD, Medical Director; Chris Mashburn, RN, Director of Clinical Programs and Lead Transplant Coordinator; and Dr. Frank Scholl, Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery

With an expert cardiac transplant team standing by and one patient waiting for a heart, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital achieved an extraordinary milestone on Dec. 15.

Just five days earlier, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, the leading Children’s Hospital in Broward and Palm Beach counties, received federal approval from UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) to launch a pediatric heart transplant program, clearing the path for pediatric cardiac surgeon Dr. Frank Scholl to perform the first heart transplant in the hospital’s history.

“This is a momentous occasion for our team, but it’s also great news for our surrounding communities and the patients and families we have the pleasure to serve,” said Dr. Scholl, chief of pediatric cardiac surgery at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “The establishment of this program is truly an advancement in medical care in this community, and one that will impact the lives of many children and families in years to come.”

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Heart Transplant Program is one of only two programs in South Florida, an area that serves close to 1.5 million children. There are now a total of four pediatric heart transplant centers in Florida: Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

With this new program in Broward County, many families will benefit from having a specialized team closer to home. Prior to federal approval, statistics showed that a large number of children did not have sufficient access to heart transplant services, and many had to seek services outside South Florida and even out of state.

The approval of the program is the culmination of years of strategic planning, including the formation of a pediatric cardiac transplant team with the right mix of expertise and compassion.

“The pool of pediatric heart transplant experts is quite small and finding physicians that would fit in well with our team, had exceptional clinical skills and a philosophy of patient-and family-centered care, was certainly well worth the effort,” said Nina Beauchesne, administrator for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and Pediatric Services for Memorial Healthcare System.

The core Pediatric Heart Transplant team includes Dr. Scholl; Maryanne R.K. Chrisant, M.D, director of pediatric cardiac transplant, heart failure and cardiomyopathy; and Chris Mashburn, RN, lead transplant coordinator.

“Pediatric heart transplant demands a comprehensive team effort,” Dr. Chrisant said. “Beyond the physicians, we’re fortunate to have a team of high caliber, dedicated nurses, intensivists, perfusionists, and laboratory medicine experts – all levels of patient care – who are helping us make this dream a reality.”

The transplant team works closely with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital hospitalists and cardiologists including Kak-Chen Chan, M.D.; Lilliam Valdes-Cruz, M.D.; and Ming-Lon Young, M.D.; as well as with Director of Cardiac Surgery Richard Perryman, M.D., and Chief of Pediatric Critical Care Gerald Lavandosky, M.D.

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, is a facility of Memorial Healthcare System, the fifth-largest public healthcare system in the nation. It is a patient- and family-centered care facility that meets the complex needs of children by providing a wide scope of inpatient and outpatient pediatric services supervised by the largest diversity of board-certified specialists in the region. As an advocate for children’s healthcare and related causes, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital offers community education, child safety programs and the Conine Clubhouse, a home away from home for families of hospitalized children.

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