Ihe historic first milestone at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital in NYU Langone, a team of pediatric cardiac surgeons successfully replaced the heart of Maz Zisan, an 18-year-old from Brooklyn Heights with end-stage heart failure on August 28, 2021 .
Maz had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a rare condition in which the heart muscle becomes unusually thick, making it difficult for his heart to pump blood to the rest of his body. It is estimated that one in 500 people have HCM, but a large percentage of patients go undiagnosed because many people with the disease have little or no symptoms, according to the American Heart Association. As HCM progresses, it can cause problems in the heart’s electrical system, resulting in abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) that are life-threatening or heart failure.
“Heart transplantation was the only saving option for Maz to have an improved second chance at life,” said Rakesh Singh, MD, medical director of the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program, pediatric cardiologist and associate professor at the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone. “The success of our first transplant is testament to the teamwork within the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital.
What led to the patient’s heart transplant
Since Maz was 14, he trained regularly in the gym, with a particular interest in mixed martial arts. “Over time, I noticed how quickly I would get short of breath and slow down compared to my friends in cardio-related activities,” Maz recalls. “I was taking pre-workout supplements and drinking copious amounts of coffee to try to keep up, without giving it much thought.”
In December 2019, Maz suddenly passed out when leaving a SAT practice test at his high school. He was rushed to a local Brooklyn hospital and diagnosed with HCM, a shocking discovery for Maz and his family. Since his unexpected diagnosis at the age of 16, he has had to sit on the sidelines while his friends played sports, worked out and did normal activities that tired him out much faster than others and brought him to sleep. experience continuous episodes of palpitations, dizziness and fainting.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Maz came to Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital to see Frank Cecchin, MD, Andrall E. Pearson Professor of Pediatric Cardiology and Director of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology. Dr Cecchin performed a procedure to place a defibrillator that would protect Maz from life-threatening arrhythmias and put him on heart medication to manage the condition. In June 2020, Dr Cecchin referred Maz to Dr Singh in the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program to manage his symptoms of ongoing heart failure. Dr Singh led the team in assessing Maz to see if he would be a good candidate for a transplant.
“After months of monitoring Maz, it was clear that he was quite limited in his basic activities at home and away. A treadmill stress test in March showed a significant drop in her exercise capacity and given her persistent heart failure symptoms despite maximum medical management of her HCM, the only option to improve her quality of life was heart transplant, ”said Dr Singh, who put Maz on the transplant waiting list on April 9, 2021.
On August 26, 2021, Maz and his family received a call indicating that a donor organ was available. The transplant procedure was performed by TK Susheel Kumar, MD, Surgical Director of the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplantation Program, Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon and Associate Professor at the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery; and Nader Moazami, MD, surgical director of adult heart transplantation at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute and head of the Division of Heart and Lung Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support.
“He is in good health and is coming home thanks to the excellent care he has received at all levels, especially in the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program here at NYU Langone. I am grateful to everyone who took care of Maz and I feel fortunate to be part of a team that constantly strives to achieve the best results for each of our patients, ”said Dr Kumar. “It was our privilege to see this transplant succeed, and I couldn’t be happier for Maz and his family.”
Maz can’t wait to start his first semester at college, where he will study Mechanical Engineering, and get back to mixed martial arts with his new heart.
A leader in caring for children with the most complex heart needs
The Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program, which is part of the Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease Program at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, was established in September 2020. National leader in pediatric and congenital heart surgery, the program of Pediatric congenital cardiology has a 99% survival rate, beating those of the largest programs in the Northeast region and the national average, according to statistics from recently validated data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The program uses a team approach to care for patients and families affected by HCM and other hereditary cardiomyopathies.
“This milestone at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital underscores our commitment to providing excellent comprehensive care to all patients through our advanced expertise in caring for children with the most complex cardiac needs,” said Catherine S. Manno , MD, Professor Pat and John Rosenwald of Pediatrics and Director of the Department of Pediatrics.