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ST. LOUIS – In late January, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Heart Center was the first pediatric heart transplant program in the Midwest, and one of a few in the United States to perform 500 heart transplants. To celebrate the remarkable milestone, in conjunction with April being National Donate Life Month, St. Louis Children’s Hospital hosted a reunion of heart transplant families and Heart Center staff from the past 33 years on Sunday at Ballpark Village.

Hundreds of heart transplant patients, family members, and the Heart Center’s surgeons, doctors, nurses, and other staff members attended the event. The Heart Center performed one of the first heart transplants in the U.S. in 1986, and some of those early transplant recipients, as well as the founding medical director of the heart transplant program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, were in attendance.

Today, the Heart Center consistently performs the highest volume of pediatric heart transplants than any other program in the Midwest and the program is known for giving hope to the families of high-risk cases turned down by other heart centers.