For people born with a single ventricle heart, options are scarce. They must either undergo a palliative series of open heart surgeries, ending with the Fontan, or receive a heart transplant. As the first Fontan patients reach adulthood, emerging data suggests that all Fontans will eventually fail. It is no longer a matter of if, but when. There are several complex and individualized factors that determine when and how failure will present, but once it does, the only option becomes a heart transplant. While heart transplants are lifesaving, they come with their own risks and another timeline for eventual failure. In 2000, while at Stanford University, Dr. Mark Rodefeld began rethinking the way Fontan patients should be treated. Guided by the belief that there must be a better approach toward stronger outcomes for single ventricle heart patients, he began his research. He sought to develop a treatment option for Fontan patients that would extend the life of the Fontan repair and put off, or eliminate, the need for a heart transplant.
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