The program that cares for children with advanced lung disease at Children’s National Hospital has secured a certificate of need (CON) from the Washington D.C. State Health Planning and Development Agency (SHPDA) to become the area’s first pediatric-specific lung transplant program.
“This is a significant step toward providing complete, wraparound care for young patients with complex lung conditions,” says Michael Tsifansky, M.D., director of Respiratory Failure and Lung Transplantation, who leads the program. “While our goal is always to provide the best care that will maintain lung function and avoid a lung transplant completely or for as long as possible, we look forward to being able to offer this life-saving procedure to those children who need it in the same location where they receive care.”
While many children’s hospitals offer care for complex lung conditions, there are only a few programs in the entire United States that provide lung transplants specifically for children and none in the Washington, D.C., region.
At present, there is no local option for a pediatric-specific program that can perform the transplant and provide the necessary comprehensive services for patients, from infancy up to age 18. As a top children’s hospital, Children’s National is uniquely positioned to provide the highest level of pediatric care to these patients and allow children and their families to spend more time at home while undergoing this and other lifesaving treatments.
With the CON process complete, the program can now start the process of securing certification from the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) and completing a few other federal regulatory steps.
In the meantime, Dr. Tsifansky says that it’s important for people to know that there is already a program that can provide care for pediatric patients with advanced lung conditions.
“The path to a lung transplant is extremely long,” he says, “And our job in the advanced lung disease program is to manage the care of these children in ways that will keep them as healthy as possible for as long as possible. In some cases that hopefully means there is no lung transplant in their future. For others, it means making sure their bodies are strong enough and healthy enough to qualify for and tolerate the life-saving lung transplant they need, when they need it.”
The team hopes to secure all regulatory approvals and perform the first pediatric lung transplant at Children’s National in early 2021.