Best Children's Hospitals: Heart and Heart Surgery

Filed under: Health, Health & Safety: Babies, Medical Conditions, Health & Safety: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Health & Safety: Big Kids, Health & Safety: Tweens, Health & Safety: Teens

Children's Hospital Boston has a 98.5 percent survival rate

Children's Hospital Boston has a 98.5 percent survival rate. Credit: Children's Hospital Boston

When your child is ill, only the best care is good enough. So we're highlighting the hospitals that are leading the way in research, innovation, treatment and, most importantly, patient care. This is the twelfth in the series on best children's hospitals in the United States.

Patricia Winning knows the statistics firsthand: One out of every 100 infants born in the United States is born with a congenital heart defect, making it the most commonly occurring birth defect.

Seventeen years ago, when Winning's son John was born, with his aorta in the wrong place, "It was a tremendous crisis," she recalls. The diagnosis prompted a desperate search "the old-fashioned way," through telephone books, trying to find the leading pediatric cardiac specialists and hospital to care for her infant.

Today, after a heart transplant and years of care, John is a healthy teen. And Winning has made it her full-time career to help parents whose infants are in a medical crisis receive the best care possible. As a senior vice president at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, Winning offers this advice to parents of significantly ill children, specifically to those whose child has a heart condition: "Find a hospital that is connected to a teaching institution with a heart center that has deep expertise in pediatric cardiac care. Then pick up the phone, ask for the physician on call and say: "What I want to know is how many heart transplants have you done? I want to understand what in depth research you have done."

To jumpstart the search, here are three of the leading heart and heart surgery hospitals in the United States:

Children's Hospital Boston,
Boston, Mass.
Children's Hospital Boston has been at the forefront of pediatric heart surgery since 1938, when Robert Gross, M.D., performed the first operation to correct a congenital heart defect. With the largest pediatric cardiac surgery department in the United States, which performs surgery on more than 1,200 child patients annually, Children's of Boston boasts a survival rate of 98.5 percent. For the last few years, it has been named the No. 1 leader in children's heart care in the U.S. News report and one of the top hospitals in The Leapfrog Group's Hospital Survey. The hospital's surgery department is led by six top pediatric heart surgeons dedicated exclusively to patients with congenital heart disease, along with specially-trained cardiovascular nurses and technicians and a cardiac anesthesia team for children who are having heart surgery. In addition, three operating rooms are reserved specifically for heart surgeries, along with state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization laboratories and a 28-bed cardiac intensive care unit devoted solely to the critical care of child cardiac patients.

Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, Texas
The primary pediatric training site for Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital is one of the largest pediatric hospitals in the United States. Boasting a cardiovascular genetics clinic, it ranked No. 3 in heart surgery, and nationally in all 10 specialties, in the U.S. News & World Report survey. It was also named one of the top 10 in the Parents/NACHRI survey. The hospital's world-renowned pediatric cardiologists and surgeons lead 40 patient care centers. They care for more than 12,000 patients and perform more than 750 surgeries annually, with outcomes among the best in the nation.

University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital
, Ann Arbor, Mich.
This hospital ranks 4th for heart and heart surgery in the U.S. News survey and as one of the top 10 best children's hospitals in the Parents/NACHRI report for 2009. Serving as a national model for cardiac intensive care, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital also stands out for using a team approach that brings together parents, doctors, nurses, social workers, exercise physiologists and dietitians in the diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of childhood heart disease. It also offers a wide variety of subspecialty clinics, ranging from heart transplant and congenital heart defects to arrhythmia and prenatal heart disease care.

Related: Best Children's Hospitals: Top 3, Best Children's Hospitals: Cancer, Best Children's Hospitals: Digestive and Liver Disorders, Best Children's Hospitals: Diabetes, Best Children's Hospitals: Respiratory Conditions, Best Children's Hospitals: Rehab, Best Children's Hospitals: Orthopedics, Best Children's Hospitals: Neurology, Best Children's Hospitals: Neonatology, Best Children's Hospitals: Urology and Kidney Diseases

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.