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When critical cardiac support is needed, children and their families can rely on the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Children's Mercy. The 24-bed specialized inpatient unit provides round-the-clock care and treats babies, children, teens and young adults challenged with any number of complex heart conditions, along with patients recovering from surgery.

Caring for more than 500 children each year, our multidisciplinary team includes highly experienced, board-certified pediatric specialists (who have expertise in various areas, including cardiac intensive care medicine, cardiology, heart failure and cardiac anesthesiology), as well as cardiovascular surgeons, neonatologists, pediatric subspecialists, CICU nurses, CICU advanced practice nurses (APRNs), respiratory therapists, pharmacists, dietitians and more.

Conditions treated in the CICU

We offer advanced heart care for children recovering from complex congenital heart disease surgery or awaiting heart transplant, or for children with one or more challenging cardiac issues, including:

  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – A rare type of congenital heart disease that alters normal blood flow through the heart because of an extremely underdeveloped left side of the heart.
  • Cardiomyopathy – A condition in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood effectively.
  • Advanced heart failure Progressive worsening of heart function to the point that traditional treatment is no longer effective.
  • Atrial septal defect (ASD) – A hole in the heart between the atria (the upper chambers).
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD) – A hole in the heart between the ventricles (the lower chambers).
  • Coarctation of the aorta – A constriction (narrowing) of the aorta, the body’s main artery.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot – A combination of four different cardiac conditions: VSD, pulmonary stenosis, right ventricular hypertrophy (a thickened right ventricular wall) and a misplaced aorta.
  • Transposition of the great arteries – A condition in which the main arteries leading from the heart (aorta and pulmonary artery) become switched.
  • Atrioventricular canal defect – A cardiac condition that includes a hole between the heart’s chambers, issues with valves that control blood flow, and a condition that causes the heart muscle to grow larger.


Because each child requires a unique treatment plan, we offer individually tailored therapies that encompass our many varied medical services, programs and technologies, including:

  • Ventricular assist devices:
    • Berlin Heart – This special “artificial heart” pump helps to maintain blood flow in children with heart failure by pulling blood from the left ventricle and then returning it to the aorta, saving the heart from the extra work.
    • HeartMate 3 – This implantable heart pump moves blood through the body for children with a heart that’s too weak to do the job.
    • PediMag/CentriMag – These specialized devices help ensure proper blood flow to vital organs. Soft tubes are placed in the heart and connect to a pump outside the body.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – Blood is pumped from your child’s body to a machine that removes the carbon dioxide and returns blood that’s full of oxygen back to the body’s tissues and organs. This process allows the blood to bypass the heart and lungs to promote healing.
  • Heart transplantation – For children with serious heart problems, our team can perform a transplant, a surgery to replace your child’s diseased heart with a healthy heart from a donor.
  • Continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) – This nonstop dialysis therapy filters and cleans the blood, filtering out waste products and any extra fluid in the blood. Performing some of the work typically done by healthy kidneys, CRRT keeps the blood in balance while kidneys heal.

What to expect in the CICU

Your child will be treated by a multidisciplinary team of individuals from throughout the hospital, including areas such as neurologynephrology, pulmonology, hematology, electrophysiology, vascular access, interventional radiology, and many others.

Members of your child’s team will visit with you daily to identify care options, establish goals for the day and to ensure all your child's clinical needs are met.

Every patient in the CICU also has access to a variety of resources, including Social Work, Spiritual Services, Child Life Specialists, and Music Therapy.

The inspiration behind the Haverty Family Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

Marlys and Michael Haverty have channeled generations of business success and ingenuity into generous philanthropic impact across Kansas City. After their grandson Patrick’s successful heart surgery and recovery under the watchful eye and careful hand of James O’Brien, MD, FACS, Mr. and Mrs. Haverty were moved to ensure that same level of expert pediatric cardiac care would be available for all children across the region. The Haverty Family’s legacy of compassion through giving will impact countless kids and families at Children’s Mercy for generations to come.