Florida Hospital is developing a pediatric liver transplant program, which will provide much-needed services to children in Central and North Florida.
Today, the only active pediatric liver transplant program in Florida is in Miami, causing children and their families to travel great distances — and out of state — for treatment.
"We believe there is a critical need for children not just in Central Florida, but across our state, to have access to a liver transplant program that is close to home. Dozens of children and their families travel great distances for this treatment, and the overall care needed for liver transplant can last a long time," said Dr. Rajan Wadhawan, chief medical officer at Florida Hospital for Children.
The Agency for Health Care Administration approved Florida Hospital's request to develop the program.
"We are grateful for the state's approval and thank the Agency for Health Care Administration for recognizing this need," Wadhawan said. "We are thrilled to move forward with bringing this life-saving service close to home for these families by building on world-class programs and services already in place at Florida Hospital for Children for kids who need highly complex care to restore them back to health."
Florida Hospital anticipates listing its first patients for the Orlando program in January.
Overall, the Florida Hospital Transplant Institute (FHTI) is one of the busiest transplant centers in the state. It offers kidney, liver, kidney/pancreas, lung and heart transplants.
The adult liver transplant program is one of the best, by outcomes, in the United States.
"The liver is a complicated and essential organ," said Dr. Thomas Chin, director of FHTI's liver transplant program. "Liver transplants are unique because there are no machines or procedures that can replicate its functions. When the liver fails, transplant is often the only option."
The program will be part of the FHTI and will operate within Florida Hospital for Children, which offers programs and services including pediatric open heart surgery, pediatric kidney transplant and blood and marrow transplant for critically ill children with highly complex cases.
"Florida Hospital has been committed to saving lives through our adult transplant programs for more than 40 years, and it is our goal to provide the same level of advanced and compassionate care to infants and children in our community," said Florida Hospital Vice President Kari Vargas. "Our nationally recognized team is well-equipped with the skills, infrastructure and first-class facilities to perform pediatric liver transplants, and we look forward to providing this life-saving service to our community."