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Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit Opens

A new children's heart surgery program launched at Florida Hospital means area children born with congenital heart defects won't have to travel for treatment. At least one Central Florida mother said having a program like that here can mean the difference between life and death.

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[One of Florida Hospital's new pediatric cardiac ICU rooms]

Karen Fray’s 17-year old son was a star athlete looking forward to a full scholarship to play college ball last year when he suddenly went into cardiac arrest. She said she realizes now that they were lucky to have a hospital here that could perform a pediatric open heart surgery. “ Time was so so critical, if they had to take him somewhere else, I’m not sure the results would have been as favorable as they were,” said Fray.

Fray’s son Xhosa needed an implanted defibrillator, a surgery he couldn’t have had at Florida hospital just a couple of years ago. Now things are going a step further with a new collaboration between Florida Hospital and Johns Hopkins. Florida Hospital for Children CEO Marla Silliman said now the hospital can start dealing with congenital heart defects. “We will be able to do all complicated cases in coming months and years,” she said.

She said Florida hospital has performed 90 successful pediatric open heart surgeries so far this year. But congenital defects sometimes require multiple surgeries at different stages of life. Silliman says the new facility is designed to accommodate that.


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