Congenital Heart Disease in Adolescents and Adults
The Integrated Adolescent and Adult Congenital Heart Disease Unit (UCCAA) at Vall d'Hebron - Sant Pau is a part of the Cardiology Department, and its mission is to provide multidisciplinary care for adolescent and adult patients living with a congenital heart disease, as well as teaching and carrying out research in this field.
The Adolescent and Adult Congenital Heart Disease Unit (UCCAA) was set up at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital more than 40 years ago, and we have been providing paediatric care for congenital heart diseases ever since. This Unit is the result of a collaboration agreement between our Hospital and the University Hospital of Santa Creu i Sant Pau, to bring together the effort, resources and experience of these two leading hospitals in the treatment of this disease.
Outpatient visits to the UCCAA Unit take place in the Outpatient Clinic of the Maternity and Children's Hospital, next to the Paediatric Cardiology Department, meaning we can group outpatient care for cardiology of congenital heart disease in a single area. This means that we can share work stations, databases and tools (the ECO 3D) and it makes the transfer and continuity of treatment simple, from paediatric age to adulthood, for what is a congenital and life-threatening disease.
Patients who require admission are directed to the General Hospital, and stay in the cardiology ward. Depending on their clinical circumstances, some of these adult patients with congenital heart disease must be admitted onto special wards:
- Patients in critical condition: Coronary and Intensive Cardiological Care Unit of the Cardiology Department.
- Patients just out of operations: Cardiology Department Postoperative Cardiac Surgery Unit.
- Pregnant patients with congenital heart disease: the Obstetrics, Foetal Medicine and Anaesthesia Departments have created a Working Unit for High-Risk Pregnancies for women with congenital heart disease. Following an established protocol, the checks carried out by the Obstetrics Unit are set to match any necessary cardiac checks to monitor the well-being of mother and foetus during pregnancy, birth and postpartum, with a care protocol that accounts for both the heart disease and the clinical circumstances. We also provide care for cases of postpartum with cardiological risk.
In parallel with these services, there is also a clinic for reproductive counselling for women with congenital heart disease. This clinic is a part of the Adolescent and Adult Congenital Heart Disease Unit (UCCAA), carried out jointly with the Gynaecology Department at the Outpatient Clinic of the Maternity and Children's Hospital. There, a cardiologist and a gynaecologist/angiologist, experts in congenital heart disease, work together to analyse the patient depending on their individual clinical and heart disease condition and explore their chances of conceiving children. Their mission is to inform, evaluate and offer sexual health planning, discussing the reproductive possibilities of the patients living with congenital heart disease.
Fermín Fernández Álvarez, Porter Coordinator, explains the importance of the role these professionals play in the hospital. After 36 years at Vall d’Hebron, Fermín is a real master of the ways things are done. He says that a porter has to combine humility, discretion and safety with a single goal: that patients receive human and friendly treatment.
The constant search for excellence is part of Hospital Vall d’Hebron’s nature. The biggest hospital in Catalonia and the leader in many fields, headed since February 2015 by Dr. Vicenç Martínez Ibáñez, who has a close personal and professional relationship with the Hospital. Dr. Martínez Ibáñez says that if Vall d’Hebron did not exist, it would need to be invented. The current director trained at the hospital, where he was one of the protagonists of an historic moment: the first paediatric liver transplant in Spain. Now, he is committed to continuing this legacy and, always putting the patient first, achieving excellence across all staff.
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Vall d’Hebron University Hospital’s kitchen serves more than 1,000 meals a day, twice a day, not counting breakfast. A reality that José Parrilla and Carmina Esteban know all too well.From three kitchens to one and from coal to gas. That is how the hospital’s catering service has evolved. A place where the needs of each patient must be taken into account and where there is room for small, juicy anecdotes.
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Dr. Josep Sánchez de Toledo Codina, head of the Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Department, tells us about a Department that has laid the foundations for the specialism in Spain. He also remembers the evolution of transplants from haematopoietic stem cells and progenitors, from the beginning, buying the material at a shop in Barcelona city centre, to the more than 1,200 transplants that have now been performed.
Dr. Francesc Bosch, Head of the Haematology Department, talks about the complexity of the Department, which has turned Vall d’Hebron into a reference centre in haematology thanks to its commitment to transplants and the use of new treatments. The Clinical Trials Unit helps a lot, giving access to treatments for complex patients.