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We offer one of the few transplant programs in the country that cares seamlessly for patients from birth through adulthood, in the same hospital complex.
Most pediatric programs must eventually refer their patients to separate adult programs, potentially causing gaps in care. At UCLA, we've learned how to manage this challenging time effectively, with a carefully crafted transition from pediatric to adult care.
Flexible Transitions for Transplant Patients
While other centers often set the pediatric cutoff at age 18, most of our transplant programs push the cap to 21. That extra window allows our patients to transition at the right time for their physical and psychosocial needs.
We know that the psychosocial component of transitional care is particularly important for transplant patients:
- We realize they must continue to take anti-rejection medications throughout their lives. Compliance can be difficult during the teen years, and our experienced physicians and nurses, psychologists and social workers can help teens and families find ways to help create routines that work.
- We closely facilitate the transition as patients become developmentally ready. This work is crucially important for patients who may need additional support due to developmental delays or other issues.
- Many patients who have grown up with us have an emotional connection to their providers. We allow time for patients to adapt to the transition.
Specialized Pediatric-to-Adult Transition Care Providers
We have a specialized team of providers who support the transition to adult care:
- Our pediatric heart transplant program has a dedicated physician, Dr. Leigh Reardon, who specializes in transitional care and begins to see patients by the time they are 20 years old.
- Our pediatric kidney transplant program offers an adolescent transition program that follows patients weekly, monthly and bimonthly. This program prepares pre-teens and teens to take on more of their own care as they mature. A social worker and physicians support this process.
- A psychologist who specializes in adolescent transition issues provides support.
- In many disciplines, physicians and surgeons are experienced in both pediatric and adult cases. These teams share information and collaborate on care, based on patient need, rather than age.
We follow patients throughout their lives, ensuring they receive uniquely well-thought-out and coordinated care.