Medical Q&As

Down's syndrome - heart transplant?

My mam minds a little 11 year old girl that has Down’s syndrome. She goes to an ordinary primary school and knows so much. But she has a hole in her heart and doctors say she will die at seventeen. Is there any way she can get a transplant and live a proper life like everyone else?

Performing a heart transplant on the 11-year-old girl you describe would not necessarily guarantee that she would live an average life span. It is also not absolutely certain that she will die by the age of seventeen years. She could live longer than that but on average most people with Down’s syndrome do not live beyond middle age. Heart transplantation would generally be regarded as a treatment of last resort when no other treatment options are available. If the girl were to undergo any form of heart surgery then the most appropriate procedure would be to repair the hole in her heart. This is rarely done in the case of Down’s syndrome because it might not improve the quality or duration of the person’s life. If this girl appears happy and content and is living a full life then surgical intervention might not confer any advantage on her. You can learn more about this condition by contacting the following Irish website: http://www.downsyndrome.ie/