Packard Children’s Named One of Nation’s Most Innovative Children’s Hospitals

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has been named a Most Innovative Children’s Hospital by PARENTS Magazine.

The PARENTS survey recognizes children’s hospitals in the United States that have developed medical innovations that have had a meaningful impact on patient care, spanning digital health advances, patient safety, new medical treatments and devices, unique community health programs, and clever ways to keep young patients and their families comfortable in the hospital. To determine this year’s winners, PARENTS editors surveyed 50 leading children’s hospitals, inquiring about innovations, response to the pandemic and technology used on a regular basis.

“In a time when healthcare workers have never been more essential or more appreciated, PARENTS sought to highlight the extraordinary efforts of children’s hospitals—not only in relation to the pandemic, but in all areas of research and medical advancement benefiting kids and families,” says Julia Edelstein, editor-in-chief of PARENTS.

More than 200 innovations were submitted overall; among the 15 innovations selected is the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health donor heart matching program.

This technique, launched in 2018, enables children awaiting heart transplant to accept larger donor hearts than doctors would have considered for them in the past. Traditionally, heart transplant teams make size-matching decisions on the basis of total body weight and height, but this method leaves children with few options. So, to help figure out which donor hearts might work for an individual recipient, pediatric cardiologist John Dykes, MD, and his colleagues are comparing CT scans of donor and recipient hearts, which they process with software to estimate heart volume. Once a CT scan is filed to Stanford’s 3D lab, it can be input in the software where the donor’s heart size is quickly estimated, and within 20 minutes doctors have a total cardiac volume that can be compared with the recipient.

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health is a national leader in pediatric heart transplant volume, having performed the first pediatric heart transplant over 35 years ago and now performing an average of 20 heart transplants each year, making us one of the most experienced pediatric heart transplant programs in the nation.

“The donor heart matching program drastically expands the number of potential donors for our pediatric patients, and ultimately shortens the wait times for children awaiting heart transplants,” Dykes said.

In addition, the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health Teen Van is recognized by PARENTS for its role during COVID-19. During the pandemic, the Teen Van has stepped up in a major way for Santa Clara and San Mateo counties—providing free COVID-19 testing, food assistance, toiletries and facemasks for local families, many of whom are homeless and live in communities hit hardest by the virus. Although the Van’s typical patient population is adolescent-aged, the goal during COVID-19 has been to support not only patients, but also their families, including young children and adults.  


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