Pediatric heart patients can now stay in KC for transplants

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Children’s Mercy Hospital’s Ward Family Heart Center has added two nationally recognized experts to lead the pediatric heart transplant team, and with that, the heart center will be able to perform pediatric heart transplants.

This means young heart transplant patients will no longer have to go to St. Louis for the surgery. The Ward Family Heart Center is the first healthcare facility in the Kansas City region to offer the procedure to pediatric patients, according to Children’s Mercy.

Dr. James D. St. Louis is a board-certified thoracic and cardiac surgeon with more than 15 years of pediatric experience. He comes from the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, where he was the Director of Pediatric Cardiac Transplantation.

Dr. Aliessa P. Barnes spent the past five years as Medical Director of Heart Transplantation at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas. She is a board-certified pediatric cardiologist specializing in pediatric heart failure and pediatric cardiac transplantation.

“They can stay close to their social support. They don’t have to uproot, quit jobs, be apart from all those people that give them support,” said Dr. Barnes.

“The community has been underserved in the area of pediatric heart transplants and that is about to change,” says Dr. Randall O’Donnell, President and CEO at Children’s Mercy in Friday’s news release.

“We have built a gifted team of experienced cardiac and transplant surgeons, physicians, nurses and support staff.  We’ve always provided the pre- and post-transplant care for patients from our region, but now, patients will have the benefit of receiving their transplant closer to home. This is important for families so they don’t have to be separated from their support system. They will receive the highest quality of cardiac care right here, at home,” Dr. O’Donnell said.

The hospital received approval for its pediatric heart transplant program from the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit group that oversees organ allocation and transplant programs under a contract with the federal government.

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