The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a research program with the goal of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals with HLHS.

To learn more or to participate, please visit our website or contact HLHS@mayo.edu.

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Nov 6, 2015

Clinical Trial Collaboration between Mayo Clinic and University of Oklahoma

By Suzanne R. Ferguson, @suzannerferguson

We are excited to announce that The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) at Mayo Clinic and the University of Oklahoma are entering into a collaboration to expand the HLHS umbilical cord clinical trial. This exciting collaboration makes it possible for more children with HLHS to participate in ground-breaking regenerative medicine using stem cell therapy.

Dr. Joseph Dearani, Professor and Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery at Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Harold Burkhart, Professor and Chief, Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center are joining together to make this clinical trial possible.

Dearani Pic                                              Dr. Joseph Dearani (Image courtesy of Mayo Clinic)

burkhart-smaller                                Dr. Harold Burkhart (Image courtesy of the University of Oklahoma)


“Stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine is our hope and plan for the next miracle in modern day medicine. Implementation of this technology needs to be done safely and with careful monitoring of the outcomes. Success will depend not only on a Mayo Clinic multidisciplinary team, but joining forces between institutions so that collective expertise is optimized. In the end, collaboration prevails and the result is improved quality and longevity of life for the many children suffering from HLHS-related heart failure. This model can also serve as a template to address many other failing congenital heart defects,” said Dr. Dearani.

“The collaborating of the University of Oklahoma and Mayo Clinic to define the role of regenerative therapy in HLHS is a tremendous opportunity, not only for the two institutions but for the patients they serve. I have every confidence in the vision of the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program as we pursue this cutting-edge therapy for children born with HLHS. As we move forward, I am optimistic and excited regarding the progress we will make defining new therapies for all children afflicted with congenital heart disease,” added Dr. Burkhart.

The clinical trial uses umbilical cord stem cells that are collected from the umbilical cord of the baby with HLHS during birth. Once the stem cells are collected, they are sent to a lab to be processed to separate the stem cells from the blood and then preserved. Before a child’s second surgery, also known as the Glenn Procedure, the stem cells are studied to determine if the child is an appropriate candidate for the clinical trial. If the child is a candidate, the stem cells are injected into the heart muscles during the second surgery when the child is from four to six months old.

Stem cells are capable of stimulating growth in cells, and the goal of the study is to discover whether the therapy can increase the cells in the heart muscle, giving the muscle greater durability and enhanced ability to pump blood in the body. For more information on this exciting new study, including eligibility, contact us at HLHS@mayo.edu.



The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. The specialized team is addressing the various aspects of these defects by using research and clinical strategies ranging from basic science, to diagnostic imaging to regenerative therapies.

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