Childbirth is a remarkable human experience, but when a baby is born with a congenital heart defect, parents are suddenly confronted with the prospect of surgery and feelings of confusion and helplessness.
But there’s high-level help available at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston through the Complex Neonatal Heart Program.
The Complex Neonatal Heart Program is offered at the Children’s Heart Institute, which is a collaboration between the affiliated physicians at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.*
Parents who choose the program find leading-edge, patient-specific care for neonates born with the most complex heart defects. The Children’s Heart Institute’s successes have positioned Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital among the top 25 in the nation in cardiology and heart surgery, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Learning that your baby has a heart defect is a major shock. But congenital heart defects are the most common of all birth defects, occurring in approximately 1 of every 100 births.
The range of heart defects varies from insignificant to the most complex and severe, which require medical, surgical or transcatheter-based treatments during the first weeks of life.
“We offer our parents and their newborns a highly organized, disciplined approach with quick and accurate fetal and postnatal diagnosis; medical management, surgical or catheter-based treatment at the time of birth and immediately after; and critical care management in the Cardiac and Neonatal Intensive Care Units,” says Damien J. LaPar, MD, MSc, associate chief of pediatric and congenital heart surgery at McGovern Medical School and director of neonatal heart surgery at the Children’s Heart Institute.
“We treat every patient as if they are our child and consistently push to develop more refined surgical approaches to repair or alleviate heart defects for our neonatal patients with complex heart conditions. Our superior outcomes have gained us national and international recognition.”
Through unique multi-specialty weekly performance rounds that focus on quality and safety evaluation of complex neonatal heart cases, the Children’s Heart Institute team identifies opportunities to elevate its performance.
“We continually look for ways to improve our performance by tracking established safety and quality metrics such as length of time babies are on ventilators, their antibiotic profiles and exposure, ICU and hospital length of stay, surgical site infections and other types of infection, as well as identify internal metrics of safety and performance to push ourselves further and establish higher standards in our Institute,” Dr. LaPar says.
This total programmatic approach distinguishes the Complex Neonatal Heart Program at the Children’s Heart Institute from those at other medical centers.
“The clinicians on our team are deeply invested in caring for neonates with complex heart conditions,” he says. “They thrive in a spirit of collaboration across all specialties and services – surgery, fetal cardiology, maternal-fetal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, anesthesia, critical care, nursing, perfusion, and respiratory therapy. Our dedication to neonates with complex heart defects is what makes our program special.”
The Children’s Heart Institute is among the top 6 percent of congenital heart programs in the United States and Canada for patient care and outcomes, according to the Fall 2019 Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) Congenital Heart Surgery Database Report of 118 STS-participating programs, the most current data available.
Thanks to close collaboration between the Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and a dedicated pediatric Children’s Heart Institute Intensive Care Unit, babies with congenital heart defects have access to highly specialized care.
Using state-of-the-art surgical techniques and advanced medical therapies, physicians affiliated with the Complex Neonatal Heart Program offer patients with the most complex neonatal cardiac conditions the greatest opportunity for a normal life. Treatment is available for:
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), Hypoplastic Left Heart Variants, Shone's Syndrome and Variants
- Functional Single Ventricles
- Pulmonary Atresia
- Transposition of the Great Arteries
- Truncus Arteriosus
- Interrupted Aortic Arch, Coarctation of the Aorta, Aortic Arch Hypoplasia
- Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR)
- Ebstein’s Anomaly
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Atrioventricular Canal Defects
- Subaortic Stenosis and Left Ventricular Outflow Tract Obstruction
- Aortic Stenosis
- Double Outlet Right Ventricle, including Taussig-Bing Heart
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus
To learn more about innovative services and inspiring patient stories from the Children’s Heart Institute, visit memorialhermann.org/childrens-heart-month.
*Typically, patients are seen on an outpatient basis at a UT Physicians clinic with all inpatient procedures performed at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.