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Inextricably linked: pediatric oncology & pediatric cardiac surgery

The Princess Máxima Center wants to underline the necessity of concentrating pediatric cardiac surgery in Utrecht. Collaboration with the UMCU/WKZ is an important condition for working successfully on the Máxima mission for all children with cancer in the Netherlands.

There is ultimate proof of the positive effects of concentration of care and research in pediatrics: the realization of the Princess Máxima Center for pediatric oncology in Utrecht. With this, we would like/aim to underline the decision of the Minister of Health to concentrate pediatric cardiac surgery in the Netherlands. The concentration of pediatric oncology has led to a significant reduction in complications during and after complex surgical procedures, the accelerated introduction of a number of new therapies, and the provision of more tailored therapy based on modern centralized diagnostics. We at the Máxima Center can make the difference for parents and children with cancer in the Netherlands through special facilities and expertise. For parents, the best care and expertise counts, and with that the best chance of survival for their child.

Concentration in Utrecht

The Princess Máxima Center in Utrecht officially opened in 2018, and has a long  origin story in which parents and pediatric oncologists worked together toward one mission: To cure all children with cancer, with optimal quality of life. Years earlier, the Utrecht location was chosen because in the Wilhelmina Children's Hospital/UMC Utrecht, pediatrics is performed in its full breadth and with highly specialist areas of expertise. The immediate availability of pediatric cardiology, thoracic surgery and pediatric cardio-anesthesia is essential to the quality of care for a significant proportion of our pediatric oncology patients. This concerns 50 children per year, for example, children with a tumor in the chest cavity, a lung resection, a mediastinal process or a congenital heart defect. Children who have impaired heart function as a result of chemotherapy or radiotherapy are also affected. Children with cancer require integrated care with all necessary facilities, such as PICU/NICU, pediatric OR complex, catheterization room and pediatric cardiology department. But also the specialist knowledge of cardiothoracic surgery and the daily collaboration between pediatric oncology surgeons and cardiothoracic surgeons that is needed to cure children with cancer and heart defects. It goes without saying that specialist teams of pediatric cardiothoracic anesthesiologists, pediatric cardiothoracic anesthesia assistants, OR assistants, intensivists and specialized PICU/NICU nurses are involved to ensure this care is properly provided for our children with cancer.

The bridge between pediatric oncology and pediatric cardiac surgery has long been built

The collaboration between the UMCU/WKZ and the Princess Máxima Center in the complex care of children with cancer is very close and has been realized at a high professional level. This collaboration is most strongly expressed in the areas of operative care, intensive care, acute care and specialist non-oncological co-treatment of children with cancer. A bridge between the Máxima Center and the WKZ was literally and figuratively built to reach the operating room complex where both organizations work together. In practice, the bridge symbolizes the close collaboration, cross-pollination and common goal. At the moment we are jointly focusing on excellent, integrated and innovative complex care for children. The Máxima Center focuses on two main areas: fewer deaths due to more effective treatments and a better quality of life with fewer side effects, and complications and/or late effects of cancer.

The concentration of pediatric cardiac surgery at the UMCU/WKZ in Utrecht is an important condition for successfully working on the mission of the Princess Máxima Center for all children with cancer in the Netherlands. And we would like to keep it that way.