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Dakota, one of the Heart Center's many special heart transplant patients
Dakota, one of the Heart Center's many special heart transplant patients

Heart Transplants

Heart transplantation is a critical component of the cardiology and cardiac surgery program at The Heart Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital. Our pediatric heart transplant program ranks among the nation's best. Each year, more than 20 children receive new, healthy hearts from the hands of our pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons and their team. In fact, in 2011 Arkansas Children's Hospital set a national record by performing 31 pediatric heart transplants. To date, the team has given new chances at life to more than 280 children through the miracle of heart transplant.

Cardiac surgeons at the Heart Center at ACH performed its first heart transplant in March 1990 on a two-day-old boy with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. A member of the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study Group, the Heart Center in 2001 was recognized as the first freestanding pediatric Center of Excellence for Medicare and one of the few for Blue Cross.

Contributing to our growing reputation is our successful long-standing Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) bridge-to-transplant program with, our ventricular assist device program employing Berlin Heart and other devices (such as centrifugal pump LVAD). The ACH Heart Center has implanted more Berlin Heart Ventricular Assist Devices than any other center in North America. We pioneered the use of the DeBakey Child VAD, performing the first successful bridge-to-transplant with this device. We also have the unique ability to transport patients on ECMO from any destination in North America to our center.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

The extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program at Arkansas Children's Hospital is one of the busier programs in the United States, supporting approximately 40 patients yearly and operating a mobile ECMO unit, one of only three mobile systems in the country. Mobile ECMO systems allow the transport of critically ill patients, either by air or ground, while the patient is on ECMO bypass. A heart-lung bypass system (ECMO) allows babies' hearts and lungs to rest and recover after surgery or severe illness ­increasing the survival rates for certain conditions from only 20 percent to almost 100 percent. Arkansas Children's Hospital was awarded the Excellence in Life Support Award for its exceptional commitment to providing a quality ECMO program, staff training, continuing education and ongoing clinical research. The ECMO program at ACH is one of only four programs in the country able to accomplish inter-hospital transport of patients on ECMO.

Angel One Transport

Arkansas Children's Hospital's Angel One Transport is a state-of-the-art, intensive-care transport system for bringing critically-ill and injured infants, children and adolescents as well as adult burn patients from throughout Arkansas and the surrounding states to ACH. Angel One also operates a high risk obstetric (HROB) transport program in partnership with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Angel One operates a fleet of five vehicles including 3 ground ambulances and 2 Sikorsky S-76 C+ helicopters. Angel One also has several fixed-wing aircraft (airplanes) available for longer distances through local vendors.

Angel One Transport covers the entire state of Arkansas and its surrounding states. This covers a radius of approximately 200 miles of Little Rock. With the ability to do mobile ECMO, this distance is extended to 300 nautical miles. Angel One was the first to do mobile ECMO by helicopter and currently averages 2,000 transports per year with over 1,000 of those by helicopter.


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