The majority of pediatric Fontan patients have excellent post-transplant survival

Kevin Kulshrestha*, Jason W. Greenberg, John T. Kennedy, Spencer Hogue, David S. Winlaw, Awais Ashfaq, Farhan Zafar, David L.S. Morales

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Many pediatric Fontan patients require heart transplant, but this cohort is understudied given the difficulty in identifying these patients in national registries. We sought to characterize survival post-transplant in a large cohort of pediatric patients undergoing the Fontan. Methods: The United Network for Organ Sharing and Pediatric Health Information System were used to identify Fontan heart transplant recipients aged less than 18 years (n = 241) between 2005 and 2022. Decompensation was defined as the presence of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, ventilation, hepatic/renal dysfunction, paralytics, or total parenteral nutrition at transplant. Results: Median age at transplant was 9 (interquartile range, 5-12) years. Median waitlist time was 107 (37-229) days. Median volume across 32 center was 8 (3-11) cases. Approximately half (n = 107, 45%) of recipients had 1A/1 initial listing status. Sixty-four patients (28%) were functionally impaired at transplant, 10 patients (4%) were ventilated, and 18 patients (8%) had ventricular assist device support. Fifty-nine patients (25%) had hepatic dysfunction, and 15 patients (6%) had renal dysfunction. Twenty-one patients (9%) were dependent on total parenteral nutrition. Median postoperative stay was 24 (14-46) days, and in-hospital mortality was 7%. Kaplan–Meier analysis showed 1- and 5-year survivals of 89% (95% CI, 85-94) and 74% (95% CI, 81-86), respectively. Kaplan–Meier of Fontan patients without decompensation (n = 154) at transplant demonstrated 1- and 5-year survivals of 93% (95% CI, 88-97) and 88% (95% CI, 82-94), respectively. In-hospital mortality was higher in decompensated patients (11% vs 4%, P = .023). Multivariable analysis showed that decompensation predicted worse post-transplant survival (hazard ratio, 2.47; 95% CI, 1.16-5.22; P = .018), whereas older age at transplant predicted superior post-transplant survival (hazard ratio, 0.89/year; 95% CI, 0.80-0.98; P = .019). Conclusions: Pediatric Fontan post-transplant outcomes are promising, although early mortality remains high. For nondecompensated pediatric patients at transplant without end-organ disease (>63% of cohort), early mortality is circumvented and post-transplant survival is excellent and similar to all pediatric transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2193-2203
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Fontan
  • modifiable risk factors
  • pediatric heart transplant
  • post-transplant survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Surgery


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