News | Congenital Heart | September 25, 2018

St. Louis Children's and Washington University Heart Center Perform Rare Infant Heart-Lung Transplant

Five-month-old  is youngest patient in more than a decade to undergo successful heart-lung transplant

St. Louis Children's and Washington University Heart Center Perform Rare Infant Heart-Lung Transplant

Image courtesy of St. Louis Children's and Washington University Heart Center

Image courtesy of St. Louis Children's and Washington University Heart Center

September 25, 2018 — Five-month-old Jack Palmer is home with his family in Kansas City after undergoing an extremely rare heart-lung transplant at St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Heart Center in May. At five months of age, Jack was the youngest patient to undergo this surgery successfully in more than a decade.

Heart Center physicians tried the procedure as an alternative treatment after Jack was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) with an intact atrial septum and severely damaged lungs – a congenital heart defect in which the baby essentially has half of a heart.  Traditionally infants born with HLHS undergo a series of three surgeries in an attempt to correct the condition, but most do not survive.  

Combined heart-lung transplants are so rare that Jack’s was the only one performed, thus far, in the United States in 2018.  The last successful heart-lung transplant in the U.S. also took place at St. Louis Children’s in 2017 for 15-year-old Spencer Kolman.

Jack’s parents, Chuck and Tiffany Palmer, discovered their son’s condition during a routine ultrasound.  The family was given little-to-no hope for the baby’s survival, but the Palmers would not give up. They were referred to two different pediatric heart centers and were declined therapy both times; however, when Pirooz Eghtesady, M.D., chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery with Washington University at St. Louis Children’s Hospital learned about Jack's story, he thought he could take a different approach.

“My thought process was if we keep doing what people have done historically, we’re going to keep getting the same results,” said Eghtesady.  “Truthfully, he had a difficult and stormy course early on and there were times that people had lost hope and didn’t think he was going to make it through, but he did.  I am grateful that his parents trusted us enough to give us the privilege of caring for him.”

Almost immediately after surgery, Jack’s parents noticed he seemed like a new baby. “The first thing I noticed was how pink he was,” said Tiffany. “He was intubated for a few weeks after, but he was awake and could interact and smile.”

“He’s interactive, he’s playful, he seems to be developing normally,” said Eghtesady. “Right now, it looks like he’s going to be a normal kid and that’s very exciting.”

The Heart Center at St. Louis Children’s and Washington University is the largest in the region, caring for nearly 5,000 pediatric patients over the past 10 years.

For more information:

Related Content

Transplanting Pig Hearts Into Humans One Step Closer
News | Cardiovascular Surgery | December 11, 2018
The scientific journal Nature recently published an article from Munich University Hospital which describes the long-...
Bilateral Artery Use Does Not Improve 10-Year CABG Outcomes
News | Cardiovascular Surgery | September 06, 2018
While it is firmly established that the use of one internal thoracic artery can improve life expectancy in coronary...
Mandatory Public Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Reporting Associated With Better Patient Outcomes
News | Cardiovascular Surgery | April 30, 2018
Mandatory public reporting of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) results in Massachusetts was associated with...
Gecko Biomedical Receives CE Mark Approval for Setalum Sealant
News | Cardiovascular Surgery | September 19, 2017
Gecko Biomedical announced it has received CE Mark approval for its Setalum Sealant, allowing the company to market its...
ClearFlow Inc. Announces Positive U.S. Clinical Trial Results
News | Cardiovascular Surgery | September 08, 2017
September 8, 2017 — ClearFlow Inc.
Videos | Cardiovascular Surgery | July 19, 2017
This video educational session, provided in partnership with the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE), is title
Intensive Glycemic Control Program Produces Significant Per-Patient Cost Savings for CABG Surgery
News | Cardiovascular Surgery | May 25, 2017
A new study from Emory University observed a near-20 percent reduction in perioperative complications, a 1.2-day...
Risk of Heart Transplant Rejection Reduced by Desensitizing Patient Antibodies
News | Cardiovascular Surgery | May 23, 2017
The risk of heart transplant rejection can be reduced by desensitizing patient antibodies, according to research...
Scientists Show How Cells React to Injury From Open-Heart Surgery
News | Cardiovascular Surgery | May 04, 2017
Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute investigators have learned how cardiac muscle cells react to a certain type of injury that...
Overlay Init