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Inside Pediatrics Podcast

Birmingham, Ala.  (Feb. 1, 2024) — February is American Heart Month. It is a month to raise awareness about pediatric heart disease and celebrate our cardiac patients and families. Children’s of Alabama has one of the largest pediatric cardiovascular programs in the Southeast. Families of children who need specialized cardiovascular care can turn to the experts at the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama.

The team at the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama provides pediatric care for more than 14,000 patients a year. In 2023, the staff performed more than 800 cardiac catheterizations and electrophysiology procedures and more than 425 surgical procedures, including three heart transplants. The overall survival rate for our program in 2023 was greater than 97%.  Survival rates reflect the percentage of patients who survived until hospital discharge.  According to the outcomes recorded in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Database, Children’s cardiothoracic surgery programs surpass national trends.

“Our interdisciplinary team of more than 350 professionals who work at the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama are committed to providing superlative care for our patients collaboratively,” said division director Yung Lau M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s and the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB). “Our results of both survival as well as complication rates are among the best in the world.  Regardless of the heart disease, Children’s of Alabama has developed the expertise to not only treat these patients but also support the family during this challenging time.”

The Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama includes 20 private cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) rooms with four dedicated ECMO suites, 16 private intermediate critical care unit (CCU) rooms, two cardiovascular operating rooms, and two cardiac catheterization labs. This “heart hospital within a hospital” represents decades of superior cardiovascular clinical care and research dedicated solely to children. This single-care platform includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, intensivists, cardiologists, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, social workers, child life specialists, counselors, nutritionists, occupational and physical therapists, and chaplains and other staff that work as an interdisciplinary team to provide excellent care to our patients.

Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are conditions that are present at birth and can affect the structure of a baby’s heart and how it works. They are the most common type of birth defect. In the United States, nearly 40,000 babies are born with a heart defect each year. Almost 1% of births per year are affected by CHD. It kills more children each year than all 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. Children’s is a leader in the treatment of CHD. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Children's in the top 50 nationally in eight services, including cardiology and heart surgery.

Throughout the month, Children’s is raising awareness about CHD and promoting the work done by medical professionals at the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama. You can stay connected and participate in events to support the center by logging onto our webpage at childrensal.org/heart-month and following our social media pages (@childrensal and Children’s of Alabama) and online newsroom for Heart Month stories and posts, as well as behind-the-scenes photos and videos.