Specialty services

Our pediatric heart transplant program is the fastest growing program in the region over the past decade and is the only program of its kind in Wisconsin. Learn more about specialty services available as part of our pediatric heart transplant program (below).

Pediatric Heart Failure Program

Started in 2006, the Pediatric Heart Failure program at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin provides multi-disciplinary family centered care for children with heart disease and heart failure. Through a collaborative approach, our team includes experts in

  • Heart failure, heart transplant, mechanical support
  • Cardiac imaging (echocardiography including 3D echo, MRI and cardiac CT)
  • Cardiac electrophysiologists and interventional catheterization specialists
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Adult Congenital Heart Disease
  • Pulmonary medicine 
  • Gastroenterology 
  • Infectious disease 
  • Psychologist
  • Social worker
  • Genetic counselors

Mechanical circulatory support

Our Cardiac Critical Care Unit serves as the home for our mechanical circulatory support with pediatric home Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) program.

Learn more about mechanical circulatory support

Care for sensitized patients

During the evaluation for heart transplant, the transplant team will look for problems that can affect heart transplant outcomes. One of these problems include antibody sensitization. Many patients who need a heart transplant have had surgery or blood transfusions in the past. When someone is exposed to another person’s blood or tissue, they can develop antibodies against that person's cell markers. These antibodies can make it more difficult for patients who then need a heart transplant.

The pediatric heart transplant team at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, in collaboration with the histocompatibility section of The Blood Center of Wisconsin, coined the term "virtual crossmatch" and have been leaders in the management of children with antibody sensitization needing a heart transplant.

ABO incompatible heart transplant

Transformative research efforts (originally in Canada) demonstrated that young children, unlike older children and adults, can accept a heart transplant from a donor whose blood type would normally be considered incompatible.

We have performed 12 ABO incompatible transplants over the past few years with outcomes that are the same as those performed with compatible blood types. Testing allows us to determine which children can accept a heart transplant from an incompatible donor and although we have not seen problems after transplant, we do continue to monitor for any rejection that could be related to the blood type antigens.

Offering ABO incompatible transplantation allows us to potentially shorten the waiting time for vulnerable children waiting for a heart transplant.

F-A-C-T (Fontan Advanced Cardiac Therapies) Program

Our newest subspecialty clinic has been created specifically to assist patients with single ventricle forms of heart disease who require heart failure therapy. Our multidisciplinary approach allows us to optimize care for patients who have had Fontan surgery and have problems such as decreased ventricular function, progressive cyanosis, protein losing enteropathy, plastic bronchitis or recurrent dysrhythmias.

Heart transplant/heart failure second opinions

As one of the largest and most experienced centers in the country, we offer second opinions for patients with advanced heart failure who may or may not be candidates for heart transplantation. Our heart failure team is happy to partner with your local cardiologist to optimize your child's treatment plan and decide in cooperation with your family and local specialists when and if alternative or more advanced therapies are indicated.

Adults with congenital heart disease currently account for approximately 3% of the adult heart transplant population. Our cardiothoracic surgeons have extensive experience with palliation for complex heart disease and our adult congenital heart disease program (one of the largest in the country) partners with our heart failure specialists to offer the most comprehensive assessment of medical and surgical options. We can provide recommendations to your local team or in some cases, offer advanced services such as mechanical circulatory support or heart transplantation here in Milwaukee.