University of Maryland Children's Hospital Team Performs Rare Pediatric Double Lung-Heart Transplant

March 28, 2019

A University of Maryland Medicine team performed a rare bilateral lung-heart transplant on a 12-year-old girl. The surgery was done at the University of Maryland Children's Hospital (UMCH).

Lindsey Le is a normal tween from Severn, Md., who enjoys texting with friends and learning about science. But for the last six months, she has been the focus of intense medical treatment and care involving more than 20 physician specialists and dozens of healthcare professionals, which culminated in this unusual lifesaving procedure.

"Heart-lung transplants were performed more often on children in the 1980s and 1990s, but cases have dropped significantly in recent years," says Aldo Iacono, MD, the Hamish S. and Christine C. Osborne Distinguished Professor in Advanced Pulmonary Care and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Between the years 1988 and 2013, 188 pediatric heart-lung transplants were performed. Doctors have found that the heart can recover once a patient gets new lungs, but there are certain cases in children where heart-lung transplantation is favorable. "In Lindsey's case, her heart size was extreme and its pumping chambers were too weak," says Dr. Iacono, who is also the medical director of the lung transplant program at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Even if she obtained new lungs, her heart likely would not recover.

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