First successful pediatric heart transplant


Columbia University College Of Physicians and Surgeons


Eric Rose, MD, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons


Rose’s success in pediatric heart transplantation was an important milestone in transplantation surgery. He was recruited in 1977 by Keith Reemstma, MD, then chair of Columbia’s Department of Surgery, to establish a pediatric heart transplant program. (In 1977, Reemstma performed Columbia’s first adult heart transplant.) In 1983, the FDA approved the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine, which had been tested at a handful of medical centers, including Columbia, to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients. The following year, Rose and his team performed a heart transplant in a 4-year-old boy, using cyclosporine to prevent organ rejection. Since then, many improvements in surgical techniques and medicine have made it possible to transplant hundreds of babies and children with congenital heart defects and other severe heart problems.