News Seth Stratton | one year ago

11 Thankful Hearts Help Make History

Families celebrate transplant milestone.

Eleven special – and thankful – families were part of heart transplant history this year at Levine Children’s Hospital. The pediatric heart transplant team successfully performed just less than a dozen transplants in 2016 – more than any other hospital in the Carolinas. It’s the most the team has ever performed in a year since the hospital opened in 2007, and more transplants could take place this year. To celebrate this milestone, transplant patients and their families were invited to celebrate and reunite with the transplant team on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Paul Kirshbom, MD, the chief of pediatric cardiovascular surgery at Levine Children’s Hospital, credits the success to the help of the community, and the employees, who give 100 percent to rally behind and care for families in need. “This holiday season, we are incredibly thankful to the parents and families who allowed us to care for their children,” says Dr. Kirshbom. “We know how challenging it is to wait for a new heart, we know the difficulties that come with the transplant itself and we know how to help with life after the transplant. It’s truly a team effort between us and the families.” With its record-breaking feat, Levine Children’s Hospital now ranks among children's hospitals nationwide as one of the highest-volume pediatric heart transplant programs.

Meet some of the pediatric heart transplant patients of 2016

Ryan Bailey Ryan Bailey
Ryan’s father says his son’s doing great and he has a lot more energy. “He’s so happy – you would never know he was sick or had heart failure,” says Kenneth.            
Rihanna Carlos Rihanna Carlos
Affectionately called “Riri” by the nurses, Rihanna is the only female transplant patient of 2016. Her mother, Gladys, says she’s just starting to get her first teeth and nurses are working to get her to bottle feed.            
Aydan Ellis Aydan Ellis
Aydan has had zero rejection all his biopsies. His mother, Miriam, says he’s learned to ride a bike and he attends a kindergarten program for 4-year-olds.              
Caleb Harris Caleb Harris
Caleb’s parents say life after transplant has been a little tough. While Caleb’s health is wonderful, he has some anxiety issues. On the upside, his mother, Kim, says he's more active and can keep up with his friends from school.            
Ollie Marleaux Ollie Marleaux
Ollie continues to enjoy the finer things in life, such as squash, his toy lady bug and trains, his mom, Alice, says. He thinks dancing and peekaboo are hilarious and bath time is his favorite part of the day.            
Travis Robinson Jr. Travis Robinson Jr.
Travis' mother Allyson says he is doing extremely well, crawling all over the place. He’s made huge improvements with eating on his own, he loves story time and riding in his wagon.            
Amari Wallace Amari Wallace
While Amari is more demanding and more active than ever, the Wallace family wouldn’t have it any other way, mother Whitney says. Amari likes to clap, stick his tongue out and eat asparagus.            
Steven Whittington Steven Whittington
Before transplant, every doctor visit with Steven was a chore. Now, it’s hard to keep him in the exam room because he wants to walk the halls and say hi to everyone. He just loves everyone at Levine Children’s Hospital, says his mother, Karma.            
Carson McClimen Carson McClimen
Carson loves wrestling and football video games, but he can't wait to play with his friends without getting tired. "He's doing great and recently was moved from the intensive care unit" says his dad, Andy. "He's been up walking laps and he's getting stronger every day."             And more transplants are likely. There are currently:
  • 2 patients waiting in the hospital for transplants
  • 3 patients waiting at home
  • 3 patients are being evaluated for possible transplants.

Heart Transplant Patient Summary

Heart transplant recipients in 2016 include:
  • 9 pediatric males
  • 1 pediatric female
  • 1 adult male with a congenital heart condition (congenital heart disease occurs before birth and affects structures of the heart or blood vessels. Patients live longer thanks to medical advances, but continue to see pediatric experts throughout their lives).

Patients Benefit from Dedicated Heart Team

Levine Children’s Hospital is among a handful of facilities in the world with the clinical expertise and technology to regularly perform highly complex transplant procedures. The hospital credits breaking its transplant record to:
  • Its team of pediatric cardiologists, surgeons, social workers, nurses, dieticians, and physical and respiratory therapists
  • Dedicated heart transplant coordinators
  • Shorter wait times for organs than the national average
  • Specialized heart support, including a ventricular assist device
  • Follow-up care, cardiac rehabilitation, emotional and educational support and medication management
Our team also performed:
  • Norwood procedures
  • Nikaidoh procedures
  • Repair of all complex neonates
About the Levine Children’s Hospital Pediatric Heart Transplant Team Ever since its first newborn heart transplant in 1989, Levine Children’s Hospital has led the way in complete heart transplant care. Named one of the nation’s top children's hospitals for pediatric heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report it is regularly recognized for exceptional transplant outcomes.