joe-dimaggio-heart-surgery-first-case-web.jpgHOLLYWOOD — Five days after Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital received approval to start a pediatric heart transplant program, doctors at the institution performed its first transplant on a child.

The Dec. 15 transplant put the hospital among an elite group of four Florida institutions where pediatric heart transplants take place. The others are Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami,  All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“This is a momentous occasion for our team but it’s also great news for our surrounding communities and the patients and families we have the pleasure to serve,” said Dr. Frank Scholl, chief of pediatric cardiac surgery.

“The establishment of this program is truly an advancement in medical care in this community and one that will impact the lives of many children and families in years to come,” Scholl said.

Joe DiMaggio, part of the  Memorial Healthcare System, received federal approval from UNOS (the United Network for Organ Sharing) to launch its heart transplant program on Dec. 10.

The approval marked the culmination of years of planning, including formation of the pediatric cardiac transplant team. 

“The pool of pediatric heart transplant experts is quite small and finding physicians that would fit in well with our team, had exceptional clinical skills and a philosophy of patient- and family-centered care was certainly well worth the effort,” said Nina Beauchesne, administrator of the hospital and pediatric services for the Memorial Healthcare System.

The program received UNOS accreditation on Dec. 10 and the first patient underwent a heart transplant five days later.

The child is currently recovering and doing well, according to Scholl, who was recruited in 2007 from Monroe Carrel Children's Hospital in Vanderbilt University, where he served as director of Heart/Lung Transplant Program and director of the VAD (Ventricular Assist Device) Program.

Scholl, together with Dr. Maryanne Chrisant, who was hired this year as the medical director of the pediatric heart transplant team, and Chris Mashburn, a registered nurse who serves as the director of clinical programs and lead transplant coordinator, form the core of the transplant team.

“This is a comprehensive team effort,” Chrisant said. “This child is doing well because of the amazing efforts and expertise of nurses, intensivists, perfusionists and laboratory medicine — all levels of patient care.”

Chrisant is an internationally recognized expert in pediatric transplantation and heart failure. Her career highlights include serving as the medical director for the Pediatric Heart Transplant and Heart Failure Services at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio, and as director for the Heart Transplantation and Heart Failure Programs and co-director of the Transplant Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“We are excited to have this program and this amazing team. The future is looking bright for the patient who will need this caliber of care,” Scholl said.

The pediatric cardiac program at Joe DiMaggio began in 1998, when Dr. Richard Perryman, also an internationally renowned pediatric cardiac surgeon, was hired by the Memorial Healthcare System. Other top-notch surgeons were later recruited to form the core of the program and also the transplant team.

For more information on Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, visit

PHOTO COURTESY OF JOE DIMAGGIO CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL. HEART TRANSPLANT: Doctors at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood perform the institution’s first child heart transplant on Dec. 15.