Heart Transplant Program

Thanks to the generous support from our community, Rady Children’s Heart Institute now has a heart transplant program. This is an incredible accomplishment and one that will have a profound impact on families in our community.

Transplant surgeon and surgical director Dr. Eric Devaney, heart transplant patient Raul Montaño, first heart transplant patient Eric Montaño, and transplant cardiologist and medical director Dr. Rocky Singh

On Jan. 14, 2015, our surgeons successfully performed the first heart transplant at Rady Children’s. The patient was 11-year-old Eric Montaño from San Diego (pictured). Just two months later, Eric’s twin brother, Raul (also pictured), received a new heart, too.

Establishing a heart transplant program at Rady Children’s has been an institutional priority for many years because of our strongly held belief that no family should have to travel outside of San Diego to receive life-changing and lifesaving medical care.

In recent years, 44 children were referred to other hospitals in locations such as Los Angeles or northern California for heart transplants. A majority of these children and their families not only faced the stress of battling a life-threatening medical condition while waiting three months to a year for a match, but also had to uproot their lives in San Diego and relocate to another city. Such demands can place inconceivable burdens on a family – siblings have to leave school, parents may be forced to resign from their jobs, families have to pay for an additional residence; and all of this goes on as the family is separated from their local support system during their time of greatest need.

Next Steps

Our next step is to achieve payor Center of Excellence (COE) status.

In order to obtain the MediCal COE certification required for reimbursement, Rady Children’s must perform a minimum of seven transplant surgeries annually for two successive years (a total of 14 patients). In addition, certification requires that more than 75 percent of these 14 children (or a minimum of 11 children) remain alive for at least one year after transplant. The national average is slightly more than 80 percent. Commercial payors (i.e., health insurance companies) often require comparable COE designation as well as follow similar volume and outcome standards.

The Impact

Your support will ensure that Rady Children’s continues to receive much-needed funding to obtain Center of Excellence status for our heart transplant program. Ultimately, your gift will help to save lives and allow patients and their families to remain in San Diego while on their transplant journey.

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About Rady Children’s Heart Institute

San Diego boy receives new heart in historic surgery.

Rady Children’s Heart Institute provides comprehensive cardiac services and specialized care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as some adult patients with a history of congenital heart disease. The world-renowned cardiac teams not only strive to provide the highest quality of care, but are dedicated to advancing the current knowledge and understanding of cardiovascular disease through research and education.

The Institute’ s cardiology and heart surgery programs are ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report in its Best Children’s Hospitals edition. These programs serve more than 1 million children in the San Diego area, as well as patients from Orange and Riverside counties. The Institute is also the primary referral center for patients born with complex congenital heart disease in Hawaii and the Pacific Rim Islands.

Given this large service area, it is no surprise that the demand for services is high; the Institute’s program is the third busiest in the state of California and among the top 20 highest volume centers in the nation.