LITTLE ROCK, AR. (July 24, 2017) – There’s a new Champion for Children in Arkansas. Nationally renowned pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Brian Reemtsen, MD, of Mattel Children’s Hospital and the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, has been named director of the Heart Institute at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He will also serve as professor of surgery in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) College of Medicine’s Department of Surgery.

The announcement is the culmination of an extensive national search.

“We searched for an exceptional leader to join us as we champion children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow,” said Marcy Doderer, FACHE, president and CEO of Arkansas Children’s. “Dr. Reemtsen is a patient-focused, data-driven heart surgeon and researcher. As the leader of the Heart Institute, he will ensure world-class care for all of the cardiovascular patients at Arkansas Children’s, from those with the tiniest hearts to our adult congenital heart disease patients.”

“Dr. Reemtsen is an outstanding pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon who we are thrilled to have join our Department of Surgery at UAMS,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, MD. “Providing the best and most compassionate care for children with heart problems has been a long-standing priority for UAMS.”

In his newly created leadership position, Reemtsen says the Heart Institute will focus on three goals for pediatric heart care at Arkansas Children’s and UAMS:

  • Improving outcomes among the smallest, most high-risk children
  • Focusing on the fastest-growing patient population of adult congenital heart disease; and
  • Strengthening the world-class transplant program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

“I feel very honored and overwhelmingly excited about the opportunity to not only lead this great institution, but to have a significant impact on its growth and national presence,” Reemtsen said. “My top priorities are the patients and their families and collaborating with their referring physicians.”

Most recently, Reemtsen served as associate professor of surgery and pediatrics and chief of congenital heart surgery and pediatric heart transplant for Mattel Children’s Hospital and David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center. While there, he gained national attention for performing a heart transplant for the youngest recipient at UCLA in 25 years: a 3-week-old who received a new heart the size of a strawberry.

Reemtsen earned his medical degree from New York Medical College. He completed his internship and residency at the UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, and also served as chief resident at UCLA. He trained as a fellow in cardiac surgery at the University of Washington. He completed a 12-month Fellow Congenital Heart Surgery Program in 2004 at the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, England. Reemtsen is board certified by the American Board of Surgery, American Board of Thoracic Surgery, and Congenital Heart Subspecialty. He is a member of the American Medical Association, Western Thoracic Surgical Association, Longmire Surgical Society (president), and is a candidate member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Under Reemtsen’s guidance the Heart Institute at Arkansas Children’s will become the focal point of the hospital’s David M. Clark Heart Center. To be designated as an institute, a pediatric cardiovascular program must integrate innovative research, like discoveries in clinical trials through Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, as well as robust philanthropic support from the community. Reemtsen will also hold the Log-a-Load for Kids of Arkansas Endowed Chair for Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery at Arkansas Children’s, a position that has been key in attracting excellent talent to care for Arkansas kids with the most complex hearts.

Arkansas Children’s David M. Clark Heart Center is the leading provider of comprehensive cardiovascular care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults in Arkansas. Last year children and young adults with heart disease made more than 8,000 visits to its clinics and outpatient services.

U.S. News and World Report’s 2017-18 Best Children’s Hospitals ranked Arkansas Children’s 37th for its Pediatric Cardiology and Heart Surgery, and rated its heart transplant, congenital heart and adult congenital heart programs among the program’s excellent ratings.

The David M. Clark Heart Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital is a full-service pediatric heart institute, which offers:

  • Comprehensive pediatric and congenital heart surgery;
  • Dedicated cardiac anesthesia service;
  • A Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit with stepdown, caring for all medical needs, including pre-op and post-op care of heart patients.
  • A heart transplantation program, which has performed more than 340 of these life-saving surgeries.
  • Two state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization laboratories and an electrophysiology lab.
  • Ventricular assist technology and mobile ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation), a form of heart-lung bypass used in critical cases;
  • Diagnosis and treatment of patients with connective tissue diseases;
  • A Fetal Heart Center to provide the full spectrum of care for babies suspected of having and diagnosed with heart defects – from development of a birth plan with the family to transitional care during the infant’s first year of life; and
  • Adult congenital heart disease care.

About Arkansas Children’s

Arkansas Children’s, Inc. is the only hospital system in the state solely dedicated to caring for children, which allows the organization to uniquely shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas. The system includes a 359-bed hospital in Little Rock with the state’s only pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center, burn center, Level 4 neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care, and research institute as well as a nationally-recognized transport service. It is one the 25 largest children’s hospitals in the United States and is nationally ranked by U.S. News World & Report in pulmonology and neonatal care. A sister campus is under development in Northwest Arkansas and will bring 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, emergency care, clinic rooms and diagnostic services to children in that corner of the state. A private nonprofit, Arkansas Children’s boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking research and is committed to providing every child with access to the best care available, regardless of location or resources. Founded as an orphanage, Arkansas Children’s has championed children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow for more than 100 years. For more info, visit

About UAMS

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a northwest Arkansas regional campus; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,870 students, 799 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS and its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.