Patient quote

“We always thought he would need a transplant.  Then in June and July his heart started recovering, it was beating without the machine and they told us he would not need one.  I feel so lucky.  I have gone from having the chance to turn his machine off to seeing him in his cot, happy and laughing.”  Daniel's Mum

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congenital heart disease

Heart or circulatory conditions that are present from birth.

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Cardiothoracic Services (Heart and Lung)

Children's Heart Unit

The Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital provides care for children up to 18 years old who need medical or surgical help for conditions involving the heart, lungs and airways.

Baby in the Children's Heart UnitServices for our youngest and most vulnerable

Most of our patients come from the North of England, but children are referred to us from all parts of the UK and Ireland for treatments such as:

Our Adult Congenital Heart Service also provides services for adults who were born with a heart defect.

By providing these treatments over the years, we have developed the skills and the support systems to carry out very high-risk children’s heart surgery with excellent results.

See our facilities

Watch a video of the Children's Heart Unit:

Leading the way

The Freeman leads the way in the UK to provide treatment for infants and children with ‘end-stage’ heart failure.

Our wide range of experts work together in specialist teams to deliver innovative and outstanding care - our results are comparable with centres worldwide.

Newcastle Hospitals is the only Trust in the country to provide all cardiac care from conception, through birth, childhood and on to adulthood.

Our Children’s Heart Surgery unit is truly world class, providing excellent care and delivering the best possible results for critically ill babies, children and young people. By developing innovative services, we carried out:

  • The first infant heart transplant in Europe in 1987. This young girl is one of only 100 transplants worldwide to survive 25 years.
  • The first ABO (blood group) mismatched transplant in Europe.
  • The first HLA (genes) mismatched transplant in the UK. We are the only unit in the UK doing this at present

Highly specialised services

Our innovative approach to services has seen us develop a range of highly specialised services:

Mechanical support

The Mechanical Circulatory Support (MCS) programme makes use of mechanical devices to do the heart's job in seriously ill patients. The programme has been running at the Freeman since 1998, and is one of the largest programmes in the world.

Our experience with Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD) means that we will be in the forefront of implanting the next generation of paediatric devices in the coming years. We have the most active VAD unit in world, carrying out 72 procedures since 2005.

Congenital heart disease

We are unique in the UK to have both an adult Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) centre and a paediatric PH centre. This means we can manage a wide range of patients - including adults and children - with PH-associated congenital (from birth) heart disease.

We also have a long-standing national and international reputation in electrophysiology – the study of the electrical properties of cells and tissues. Only a few centres can provide this, and we are proud to be at the forefront of developments in electrophysiology and rhythm disorders of the heart. 

The Children’s Heart Unit undertakes complex congenital heart surgery that cannot be performed in any other centre. We treat children who are in the most at-risk group, who may also need mechanical support following surgery. We accept referrals for this type of surgery from every UK and Republic of Ireland children’s heart unit, placing us in a unique position in comparison to other hospitals. 

International links

Children’s Cardiac Services at the Freeman hospital have wonderfully strong links across regional, national and international networks. These networks, with their flow of knowledge, have contributed to improved outcomes, innovative treatments and scientific knowledge across the world.

What our patients say

Our service is highly valued by patients and families locally, regionally and nationally. We get so many messages and cards from our patients and their families.

                                         Thank you card

More information

For more information on the Children's Heart Unit, get in touch with:

  • Rachel Patterson, Matron
  • Tel: 0191 233 6161 ext 48479

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