Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh receives congressional recognition as pediatric transplant leader

From Thomas Starzl, M.D., to George Mazariegos, M.D. -- Children's Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation continues to pioneer approaches to improve outcomes and quality of life for children

PITTSBURGH, Penn. - June 2, 2006 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh has received congressional recognition as the world's premiere center for pediatric transplantation for the past 25 years, longer than any other center in the world.

Introduced by Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA), the acknowledgment was officially made a part of the congressional record last week, commemorating Children's for 25 years of service and for the establishment of the nation's first pediatric transplantation center.

In the 25 years since establishing the first pediatric transplant center under the guidance of transplant pioneer Thomas E. Starzl, M.D., Ph.D., Children's Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation has performed more than 2,200 transplant and today is a leader in developing strategies to manage organ rejection. Transplant surgeons offer a regimen of anti-rejection drugs that not only protects the transplanted organ, but in many cases allows surgeons to wean young patients from steroids soon after surgery.

"Doctors and researchers in Pittsburgh have continued to dedicate their life's work to helping advance pediatric transplantation. Over the years, surgeons have improved surgical techniques and recovery strategies to offer children far-reaching opportunities for long-term survival with a strong quality of life," said George Mazariegos, M.D., director, Pediatric Transplantation at Children's.

From the first and most successful series of small intestine transplants to the landmark work of challenging pediatric multi-organ transplants, Children's continually achieves milestones in the operating room and laboratory.

As one of the leading pediatric transplant centers in the world, Children's performs more kinds of organ and tissue transplants in children than does any other center in the United States including: heart, heart-lung, heart-liver, lung, double-lung, liver, split-liver, living-related liver, heart-lung-liver, liver-kidney, liver-small intestine, kidney, living-related kidney-bone marrow, intestine, pancreas, multivisceral and bone marrow.

Father of Organ Transplantation

Dr. Starzl is known as the father of organ transplantation and a thinker who remains well ahead of his time. More than 40 years ago, he pioneered an entirely new field of medicine and, over the course of his career, turned an intriguing research concept into an accepted medical practice that has given -- and continues to give -- hope to thousands who previously had none.

Pittsburgh witnessed and celebrated the following medical firsts: the first multiple organ transplant in 1983; the first heart and liver transplant in 1984; and the first liver and intestine transplant in 1990. This year, Dr. Starzl was awarded the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest scientific honor.


Research programs at Children's are helping to advance pediatric transplantation. Important clinical trials in research include progress in immunotherapy, transplantation tolerance, organ preservation, bioengineering, living intestine transplants and post-transplant therapies, including the reduction of steroid-based and immunosuppressive drugs.

Dr. Mazariegos and his colleagues have successfully weaned liver transplant patients off potentially toxic immunosuppressive medications without the use of steroids, which for decades have been used worldwide as standard treatment to prevent rejection following transplant surgery. Furthermore, Dr. Mazariegos and colleague Rakesh Sindhi, M.D., are developing blood tests that would help surgeons determine when a patient could be weaned from immunosuppression and also is coordinating the development of an artificial liver support system for children in liver failure.

In addition to clinical trials in research, Children's is on the forefront of the monitoring of infectious disease and preventing such disease from developing into critical problems.


Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh - leader in Pediatric Transplantation - has

  • performed the world's first pediatric double-lung transplant;
  • performed the world's first pediatric heart-lung transplant;
  • performed the world's first pediatric heart-liver transplant;
  • been one of the only pediatric transplant centers in the world to pioneer the use of a ventricular assist device as a bridge to heart transplantation;
  • performed more pediatric heart-lung transplants than any other center in the country;
  • the most active pediatric liver transplant center in the country; and
  • has performed more pediatric intestinal transplants than any other center in the country.

Survival Rates

Organ Children's National Avg.
Liver 1-yr 98 percent 1-yr 90 percent
3-yr 91 percent 3-yr 85 percent
Intestine 2-yr 91 percent 2-yr 70 percent
Heart 4-yr 89 percent 4-yr 77 percent
8-yr 83 percent 8-yr 68 percent
Kidney 3-yr 100 percent 3-yr 98 percent
BMT 91-97 percent 70-90 percent

For more information about Children's transplant programs, please visit Children's Web site at

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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