State Denies Request For Pediatric Heart Transplant Center In Orlando

Feb 17, 2017

The state on Friday denied a request by Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando to establish a new pediatric heart transplant program.

The hospital, however, did receive authorization to start a pediatric lung transplant program.

The hospital needed approval through the state’s certificate of need regulations to open the programs. Its request to establish a combined pediatric heart and lung transplant program was also denied.

Critics of the proposal for the pediatric heart transplant program said there aren't enough patients to support another center, and spreading existing patients among more centers would have a negative effect on the overall quality of care.

The state has pediatric heart transplant centers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville and the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami.

Last year in Florida, 37 pediatric heart transplants were performed at the four existing centers.

In its denial, the state said Nemours did not demonstrate a need for a fifth pediatric heart transplant center in Florida. Also, the state said Nemours did not perform the required amount of pediatric heart procedures to apply for the transplant center.

The concept behind certificate of need regulations in Florida and other states, is that it helps consolidate highly specialized procedures, such as transplants, at a limited number of facilities. That way the health care teams at those facilities do more of the procedures, gaining more experience and expertise.

Opening another center, critics argued, would mean all the centers would serve fewer patients.

There are only two other pediatric lung transplant centers in the state.

“This pediatric transplant program will be the first in the region, allowing families access to world-class specialized care,” said Nemours Children’s Hospital president Dana Bledsoe.

The center’s director will be Dr. Peter Wearden, who has participated in the care of more than 170 pediatric transplant patients and is a leader in the development of artificial organs for children.