KCUR News
1:23 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Hospital Plans to Open Region's First Heart Transplant Program for Kids

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Within a year or so, Children's Mercy hopes to be doing heart transplants for kids and newborns. Dr. Michael Artman is chair of pediatrics. He says the hospital currently refers a child out for a heart transplant once every six to eight weeks.

"It's not huge, but it's a definite need," Dr. Artman says. "And it seems to be a growing need."

Dr. Artman says medical advances are enabling more and more children born with heart complications to survive, but that can mean they need a heart transplant.

Besides St. Louis and Chicago, there aren't a lot of places where kids can get heart transplants in the Midwest. Dr. Artman says making that trek can be difficult for families in this region.

"When you have to travel out of your home base, and the farther away you get from home and having these kinds of big things done, like a heart transplant, it's very disruptive to the family," says Dr. Artman. "You're away from your social support network."

Children's Mercy is in the process of hiring a transplant cardiologist to lead the program. The hospital's president, Randall O'Donnell, recently donated a million dollars to create the position.

Find more Health Coverage on KCUR.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Download recent health stories or subscribe to the KCUR Health Podcast.

Find out what's going on in and around Kansas City, follow @KCURnews on Twitter or become a KCUR fan on Facebook.