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Place, age, and mode of death of infants and children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome: implications for medical counselling, psychological counselling, and palliative care

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Cantwell-Bartl, A. M.; Tibballs, J.

A review of outcomes of hypoplastic left heart syndrome at a pediatric hospital 1983-2004 identified 154 deaths among 206 children (75%). Of 134 surgically treated, 82 (62%) died: 68 (83%) in intensive care, six (7%) in the operating theatre, three (4%) during transport from home, two (2%) on the cardiac ward, one (1%) at home, one (1%) in the emergency department, and one (1%) elsewhere. Seventy died after stage one Norwood surgery (median age: 13 days), three died after second stage surgery (ages: 3, 4, and 20 months), two died after third stage surgery (ages: 1.2 and 3.5 years), two died after heart transplantation (ages: 4.6 and 15 years), and five died after non-Norwood surgery. All 72 infants treated without surgery died: 68 died at a median age 3 days; 57 (79%) in intensive care, three (4%) on the ward, and 12 (17%) elsewhere. Discussion involves strategies to support parents and staff at diagnosis, and before and after a child’s death.

Research abstracts