Project information

Personalised surgery for babies with heart disease

Researchers are developing better ways to predict how each baby with the serious heart defect hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) will respond to surgery, helping doctors plan the best approach for them. Personalising treatment should improve babies’ chances of surviving and their quality of life

September 2015 - February 2018

Charity information: Action Medical Research

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  • Need


    Around one in every 5,000 babies is born with a serious heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). They all need a series of lifesaving operations during the first few years of life. The severity of HLHS varies and it’s not clear which surgical technique works best in each situation, for each individual baby.


    By developing better ways to predict how each baby will respond to surgery doctors can plan the best approach and personalised treatment for them, improving babies’ chances of surviving and enjoying the best possible quality of life.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Create models of baby’s hearts to show the way blood flows, revealing how well the heart is working


    » Analysis of MRI scans of babies with HLHS. Creating virtual 3D models of baby’s hearts pre and post surgery using advanced computer modelling

    The virtual model will provide doctors with detailed information on the condition of each baby’s heart at birth. It allows doctors to monitor how well their heart adapts to surgery

  • Impact


    By comparing virtual 3D models of babies’ hearts pre and post-surgery, the benefits and drawbacks of different surgical techniques can be revealed. It will also develop ways to predict how each surgical approach is likely to benefit individual babies over the long term. Ultimately, the work will give surgeons the tools they need to select the best treatment plan for each baby. This could improve babies’ chances of surviving and having the best possible quality of life during childhood and beyond


    None identified


    Researchers are required to provide interim and final reports which we can share with donors

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £112,852

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £112,852 Research Research costs

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    GOSH £51,297 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The research is being undertaken at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, King's College London


    This rare condition affects around one baby in every 5,000 and means the left side of the heart is much smaller than usual and cannot pump enough blood to the body. Less than four decades ago, babies born with HLHS usually died within weeks of their birth. Medical advances already made mean more now survive but sadly, despite best efforts, some still lose their lives.
    This research could improve babies’ chances of surviving and having the best possible quality of life.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Action’s rigorous gold standard scientific review process ensures that the charity funds only the best doctors and researchers in children’s hospitals, specialist units and universities across the UK. Grants are awarded by the charity based on recommendations of a Scientific Advisory Panel of world-class medical researchers who consider further opinions from UK and international experts in the field.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Pablo Lamata PhD Eng, MSc

    The research leader