Heart Valve Repair and Replacement
Intervention for an absent or defective heart valve depends totally on a child’s individual situation. A child’s heart can continue to perform well with a defective right-sided valve. The left-sided valve function, however, is more critical and repair is often needed.
We rarely replace a defective valve in a child with an artificial valve. Having an artificial valve requires taking blood thinners, which we try to avoid. Instead we use human allograft materials, also known as homograft material, when valve replacement is needed. These human cadaver valves are donated and removed shortly after death. We sterilize the valves and preserve them in a frozen state. A size-appropriate valve is selected for a child.
The long-term effectiveness and durability of these valves is not perfect, but they currently are the best available option for pediatric valve replacement.