Celebrating More Than 100 Heart Transplants — And a Host of Other Heart Program Achievements

Celebrating More Than 100 Heart Transplants — And a Host of Other Heart Program Achievements 1024 746 Deipanjan Nandi, MD, MSc

We are very proud of the many heart transplants we have completed, but we’re even more proud of the patient-oriented care we offer all of our patients, many of whom can thrive with alternative treatments for their heart failure.


The Pediatric & Adult Advanced Cardiac Therapies program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital completed our 100th heart transplant in 2021 — and now our 104th! — since receiving accreditation from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) in 2002 to perform this procedure in children. As much of an accomplishment as that is, I want to celebrate something else: the personalized approach to care we have taken for all of our transplant patients, and many more.

Effectively treating each child as an individual demands that we have two major priorities in our program:

  1. We understand a heart transplant is not the only — or the best — solution for all patients.
  2. We have the experience and resources to figure out what is the best solution quickly, and to act on it with skill and speed to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Turning these priorities into a reality requires the support of an amazing team. We rely on our own dedicated team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and surgeons for the majority of patient care. But we also have a wealth of other experts sharing their expertise with our patients every day. Mechanical circulatory support specialists, pain specialists, social workers, psychologists, genetic counsellors, infectious disease specialists and many others help us deliver on our promise for tailored care.

When a patient comes in with significant heart failure, we do not automatically prepare them for a transplant. Instead, we do our homework — quickly. Do they have an infection? What does their heart anatomy look like? Is there a genetic cause of the problem? Would a transplant actually help?

Finding the answers to these questions helps us figure out which treatments may be best for our patients in the long run. Some children can recover their heart function through patient and diligent uptitration of oral medications. Others get better after time on a VAD (ventricular assist device). Still others may not be healthy enough at first to survive a heart transplant, but can improve their strength, nutrition, quality of life and overall health through VAD use. These patients may then respond better to a transplant, or they could be healthier just staying on the VAD indefinitely.

Our team has also worked very hard to incorporate the latest medical advances into care of our patients. Through our own research and that of the quality improvement collaborative we helped bring to fruition, ACTION (Advanced Cardiac Therapies Improving Outcomes Network), we helped make VADs safer. We have also been growing the number of oral medications children can take to treat heart conditions, developing tools that guide the use of advanced drugs to keep kids healthier, longer — without transplants.

Our approach works, and it has helped hundreds of children avoid transplants, improve their heart health and achieve a better quality of life.

Looking forward, we expect to have even more to celebrate. Gene therapy holds tremendous promise for patients with heart failure and genetic heart defects, as do artificial organs and xenotransplantation. Each of these therapies offers children a new chance to receive the care that best meets their needs. Nationwide Children’s is uniquely poised to help advance these treatments and cures through the expertise housed in our Institute for Genomic Medicine, the Center for Gene Therapy and our very own Heart Failure and Heart Transplant physician-scientists.

So as we round the corner after 20 years of heart transplants, it’s not just that milestone of 100+ hearts we’re celebrating. It’s the wealth of experience that has become concentrated in our physicians, surgeons, staff and researchers. It’s the breadth of medical and non-transplant options we offer children who come to us with failing hearts. And it’s the quality, nuanced care and personalized attention we will always offer our patients — heart transplants or not.

infographic style statistics about The Heart Center Heart Failure Program


Peng DM, Shezad MF, Lorts A, Gajarski RJ, VanderPluym C, Murray JM, Hawkins B, Villa CR, Zafar F, Rosenthal DN; ACTION. Decreased Risk of Strokes in Children with Ventricular Assist Devices Within ACTION. Pediatric Cardiology. 2022 Aug;43(6):1379-1382.

Image credit: Nationwide Children’s

About the author

Deipanjan "Deip" Nandi, MD, is a cardiologist with the Heart Transplant & Heart Failure Program at Nationwide Children’s. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, he went on to receive an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Harvard University, and his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine. He also obtained a Master’s of Science in Health Policy as a US-UK Fulbright Scholar from the London School of Economics. Dr. Nandi completed his internship and residency at CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. He then moved to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he completed his general cardiology fellowship as well as an advanced fellowship in Heart Transplant & Heart Failure. His clinical interests include pediatric heart failure, cardiomyopathies, transplantation and mechanical circulatory support. His research interests include comparative-effectiveness research focusing on the management of pediatric heart disease, as well as outcomes research in pediatric heart transplantation.