February is American Heart Month, and Children’s of Alabama has one of the largest pediatric cardiovascular programs in the Southeast. For children in need of specialized cardiovascular care, families can turn to the experts at the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama at Children’s.
The team has more than 14,000 patient encounters each year. In 2021, staff performed more than 800 cardiac catheterizations and electrophysiology procedures and 400 cardiovascular surgeries. The center includes 20 private cardiovascular intensive care (CVICU) rooms, 16 private critical care unit (CCU) rooms, two cardiovascular operating rooms and two catheterization labs.
“We are proud of the collaborative multidisciplinary partnership that has developed among the cardiologists, cardiac intensivists, cardiovascular anesthesiologists and cardiovascular surgeons in the delivery of patient and family-centered care,” said Division Director Yung Lau M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). “Our team of more than 350 dedicated professionals who work at the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama are committed to providing world-class cardiac care for our patients.”
This “heart hospital within a hospital” represents a five-decade tradition of superior cardiovascular clinical care and research dedicated solely to children. This single platform of care includes surgeons, intensivists, cardiologists and many others, including nurses, social workers, child life specialists, counselors, nutritionists, occupational and physical therapists and chaplains.
Heart defects are the most common birth defects, and most heart defects have no known cause. Congenital heart disease (CHD) affects about 40,000 births per year in the United States, or about 1% of all births. CHD kills more children each year than all the cancers combined and is the top killer of children born with developmental abnormalities. Survival of infants with CHD and other congenital defects depends on how severe the defect is, when it is diagnosed and how it is treated.
In addition to the medical costs, families of children with congenital heart disease can face other costs, such as lifestyle changes, emotional stress, family uncertainty and being unable to return to work in order to care for their child.
Children’s is a leader in the treatment of CHD. In July 2021, Children’s of Alabama cardiologists William McMahon M.D. and Mark Law M.D. became the first doctors in a 10-state region of the Southeast to perform a procedure involving a device called the Harmony Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve. The valve, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last spring, is used to treat patients with Tetralogy of Fallot. It can be inserted through a vein in the patient’s leg, which prevents the need for open-heart surgery. This reduces recovery time and the possibility of scarring for the patient.
Whatever type of heart surgery a child needs, Children’s of Alabama is a great place to have it. And 2021 was a great year for the hospital’s surgical patients.
“So far, all patients that we operated on in 2021 have been able to recover, and nearly all are either home or on the step-down unit. Our complication rate continues to be lower than the average complication rates of other units who participate in the Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium (PC4),” said Dr. Santiago Borasino M.D., medical director of the cardiovascular intensive care unit at Children’s of Alabama. “Unfortunately, cardiac surgery is a serious intervention. Patients can still have serious complications. We are working hard to decrease them, and prevention is the goal. But when those complications happened in our unit, the CVICU team was able to rapidly respond. Our ability to rescue patients form serious complications is one of the best in the PC4 Consortium.”
Throughout February, Children’s is raising awareness about CHD and promoting the work done by the medical professionals at the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama. For anyone interested in supporting the center, there are opportunities throughout this month and beyond.
Heart Month Highlights Advancements in Technology & Family-Centered Care
During the month of February, we celebrate Heart Month at Children’s of Alabama by highlighting advancements in care and technology at the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama. This partnership between Children’s and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) brings together more than 250 team members who focus solely on the care of children with heart disease. From the time a baby is diagnosed, even before birth, a plan for that child’s care is developed.
As Division Director of Pediatric Cardiology, Dr. Yung Lau and his team follow patients from birth until the transition to adult care. Recent partnerships and advancements in technology help to save lives in schools, monitor patients from afar and operate using less-invasive techniques.
Yung Lau, MD
Dr. Yung Lau is a Pediatric Cardiologist at Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He completed his pediatric residency at UAB and his fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina under Dr. Paul Gillette, who is recognized as the “Father of Pediatric Electrophysiology.” Clinically, Dr. Lau’s areas of special interest include cardiac rhythm abnormalities, sudden cardiac arrest in the young and congenital heart disease. Within the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama, Dr. Lau is most pleased with the multidisciplinary partnership that has developed among the cardiologists, cardiac intensivists, CV anesthesiologists and CV surgeons in the delivery of patient and family-centered care.
Send a Valentine's Day card to our patients spending the holiday at Children's of Alabama. Thanks to our friends at Spire, it's easy and free to send a valentine. This small gesture will instantly brighten their day! Visit Valentine's Day at Children's of Alabama to select one of the three card designs. The cards will be printed and distributed by hospital staff to patients throughout the hospital on Valentine’s Day.
Kendra Scott at The Summit has given a Children’s of Alabama patient the opportunity to design her own necklace! Shop at Kendra Scott during February to purchase the “Olivia” necklace. This month, 20% of all special necklace sales will benefit the Pediatric & Congenital Heart Center of Alabama.
The Mending Kids’ Hearts specialty tag can be purchased at any Alabama Department of Motor Vehicle location for a cost of $50 in addition to your normal tag cost. Of that $50, $41.25 will go to Children’s. When state residents renew or purchase a Mending Kids’ Hearts specialty car tag, they are providing valuable funds for patient care, research and specialized physician training for the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center at Children’s. For more information about the Mending Kids’ Hearts specialty tag, visit https://revenue.alabama.gov/motor-vehicle/license-plate-information/specialty-license-plates-all-vehicles/mending-kids-hearts/.
Registration is now open for the Annual Captain D’s Castin’ ‘N Catchin’ presented by Harbin Automotive. This fishing tournament benefits the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center at Children’s of Alabama and will be held Saturday, April 23, on Lake Guntersville at Goose Pond Colony Resort (417 Ed Hembree Drive, Scottsboro, 35769). The tournament has raised more than $800,000 since its inception in 2016, and it's still growing and giving more each year to drive life-saving heart research and connect young heart patients with resources to stay healthy after surgery through Camp Wired Together.
Looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift? Shop with AmazonSmile, and Amazon will make a donation to Children’s of Alabama. Visit smile.amazon.com and select “Children’s Hospital of Alabama.” For eligible purchases, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate a percentage of the purchase price to Children’s.
Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market Charity in Bloom – This month, Children’s will benefit from purchases of a flower arrangement at Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market. As part of its Charity in Bloom program, the florist will donate 20% from purchases of the “Cheerful Heart” arrangement to the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama