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UC San Diego Health, in Collaboration with Rady Children’s, Earns Prestigious Accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Association

March 9, 2022 – San Diego, Calif. – In recognition of its expertise in serving adults with congenital heart disease (CHD) and structural heart conditions present at birth, UC San Diego Health’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program, in collaboration with Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego — one of the nation’s leading providers of pediatric health care— earned accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA), a nationwide organization focused on connecting patients, family members, and health care providers to form a community of support and a network of experts with knowledge of CHD.

Individuals with CHD, the most common birth defect diagnosed in one in 100 births, are living longer. There are nearly 2 million adults in the United States living with one of many different types of congenital heart defects, ranging among simple, moderate, and complex.

“It’s a true honor to collaborate with UC San Diego Health to provide adults with CHD comprehensive, high-quality care. This accreditation highlights the exceptional quality of care provided to ACHD patients at UC San Diego Health through collaboration with Rady Children’s providers at various levels of care and transition to adult CHD care,” said Dr. Howaida El-Said, director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Rady Children’s. “ACHA accreditation links the most esteemed cardiac care providers in the nation in order to share resources and meet the highest standards of care for patients. This accreditation sets a gold standard and we are thrilled to have partnered with UC San Diego Health to meet, and work tirelessly to exceed, those standards.”

“What this accreditation means is that any adult born with a congenital heart disease can be guaranteed lifelong treatment from a multidisciplinary team of experts at our Cardiovascular Institute,” said Laith Alshawabkeh, MD, cardiologist and founding director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at the Cardiovascular Institute at UC San Diego Health. “Through our joint partnership with Rady Children’s Hospital, our program guarantees appropriate, lifelong congenital heart care for San Diegans. We are a model program, the first and the only one in San Diego. I’m incredibly proud of our team for making heart care a priority for the region.”

UC San Diego Health received accreditation upon meeting ACHA’s criteria with Rady Children’s acting as the institution’s pediatric affiliate. Accreditation includes medical services and personnel requirements, and going through a rigorous accreditation process, both of which were developed over several years through a collaboration with leading doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and ACHD patients themselves.

“There are now more adults than children in the U.S. with CHD,” said Mark Roeder, President and CEO of ACHA. “Accreditation will elevate the standard of care and have a positive impact on the futures of those living with this disease. Coordination of care is key, and this accreditation program will make care more streamlined for ACHD patients, improving their quality of life.”

There are 45 ACHA ACHD Accredited programs throughout the United States.

In 2021, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego achieved rankings in all 10 specialties surveyed by U.S. News & World Report, with Neonatology ranked as No. 4 in the country and Orthopedics as No. 7. Rady Children’s Heart Institute specializes in the surgical treatment of complex newborn heart defects, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome and includes the nation’s first pediatric image-guided intervention center, which has reported the lowest adverse events along with the lowest radiation exposure in the U.S. The Rady Children’s pediatric cardiothoracic intensive care unit (CTICU) is one of the top programs in the U.S. based on several parameters and the Hospital’s heart transplant program has been recognized as an inaugural recipient of the PHTS Vanguard Center Award by the Pediatric Heart Transplant Society.

For the 2021-2022 U.S. News & World Report, UC San Diego Health ranked 23rd for Cardiology and Heart Surgery in the nation’s top 50 programs, out of more than 4,750 hospitals nationwide. The Cardiovascular Institute at UC San Diego Health offers comprehensive care for advanced heart failure, heart and lung transplantation, complex coronary interventions, heart rhythm disorders, robotic and minimally invasive cardiac surgery, structural and adult congenital heart disease, percutaneous and surgical treatment of thromboembolic pulmonary vascular disease and intensive cardiac rehabilitation.

About Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego
Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is the largest children’s hospital on the West Coast and one of the nation’s top pediatric health care systems. Consistently ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties by U.S. News and World Report, Rady Children’s includes a 511-bed pediatric hospital that serves as the largest provider of comprehensive pediatric medical services in San Diego, southern Riverside and Imperial counties. With more than 40 locations, Rady Children’s is the only health system in the San Diego area dedicated exclusively to pediatric health care and is the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. Rady Children’s is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations to support its mission. For more information, visit and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo.

About the Adult Congenital Heart Association
The Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering the congenital heart disease (CHD) community by advancing access to resources and specialized care that improve patient-centered outcomes. ACHA serves and supports the nearly 2 million adults with CHD, their families and the medical community—working with them to address the unmet needs of the long-term survivors of congenital heart defects through education, outreach, advocacy, and research. For more information about ACHA, contact 888-921-ACHA or visit

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego contact:
Carlos Delgado

UC San Diego Health contact:
Jeanna Vazquez

ACHA contact:
Terri Schaefer