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The transplant team includes many health care professionals. These people may meet you while your child is being assessed and will work together to manage your child’s care after transplant.

Transplant Surgeon

John J. Nigro, M.D., is the the transplant surgeon. He is the doctor who performs the surgery to give your child the new heart. You and your child will meet Dr. Nigro during the evaluation process.

Medical Director

Matthew Bock, M.D., FAAP, is the medical director of the pediatric heart failure and transplantation program.

Transplant Cardiologist

A transplant cardiologist is a doctor specially trained to take care of heart transplant patients. They manage your child’s care after transplant surgery and are also involved in your child’s care while they are on the transplant waiting list. Our transplant cardiologists are Peter Chau. M.D. and Gabrielle Vaughn, M.D.

Transplant Nurse or Nurse Practitioner

A transplant nurse or nurse practitioner, sometimes called a transplant coordinator, helps to manage all the parts of the assessment and follows up with your child before and after surgery. A nurse practitioner has special additional training to do certain tests and prescribe some medications. This person works closely with the rest of the transplant team. Our Transplant Coordinator/Administrator of the Heart Transplant Program is Emily Abcede, N.P.


The pharmacist helps the transplant team with the medications your child must take to have a successful transplant. They will work with the doctors and nurses to adjust your child’s medications. They will also teach you about managing and storing your child’s medications at home.

Social Worker

The social worker’s role is to help you, your child and your family to cope with personal and family issues. They may also offer help and support with finances, accommodation,school and other issues that may arise while you are away from home.

Financial Coordinator

Your transplant program may have a financial coordinator who can help you understand the cost of transplant, your individual health benefits and any forms you may need to complete.


A clinical dietician or nutritionist is specially trained to give you advice about what your child needs to eat and drink to grow and remain healthy.

Child Life Specialist

Child life specialists support patients and families through the hospital experience. They are experts in child development, children’s reactions to being in the hospital and the importance of play. Child life specialists focus on the social and emotional impact of illness and hospital stays and work to make the experience as comfortable for children as possible.


A pathologist is a doctor specializing in examining tissue. After a transplant, they will evaluate heart biopsies for rejection. Pathologists are also commonly involved before transplantation to help diagnose the underlying cause of heart failure.

Physical Therapist

A physical therapist (PT) will assess your child’s muscles and look at how your child moves and exercises. They may give you ideas for activities or exercises to keep your child as fit and healthy as possible while they wait for their new heart. After the transplant, they will work closely with your child and help to get them back to a normal level of activity.

Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist (OT) looks for ways to prevent problems with day-to-day activities such as feeding, walking and dressing. They will help maintain and improve your child’s ability to feed and take care of themselves at a normal level for a child their age. These therapists may work with you and your child before and after transplant.


A psychologist assesses how your child thinks, behaves and processes their emotions. If your child has any special learning or health needs, the psychologist will help to co-ordinate responses within your child’s school. They can also make recommendations about any education diagnosis, for example, a learning disability.


A psychiatrist will see patients referred to the heart transplant team to check a child’s or teen’s understanding of their illness and need for transplant, assess if a child or teen is depressed or is anxious about medical procedures and help a child or teen deal with any challenges in following their treatment plan. He or she will also identify any other behaviors that may affect a child’s ability to work with the team.

Chaplains or Spiritual Care

Hospital chaplains are available to support patients and families with any faith and spiritual issues arising during the transplant experience.