Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas will be creating the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, and it will do it with one of the world’s most well-known pediatric heart surgeons, Dr. Charles Fraser Jr. Fraser, who has spent the last 23 years building the heart surgical program at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, also will be part of the faculty at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas.
Fraser, a University of Texas undergrad alum who was born in Austin, said he is excited to return home and to the University of Texas.
“We have the opportunity to build a world-class heart program,” he said. He’s looking forward to being able to offer children and adults with congenital heart disease “the care they deserve close to home.”
Fraser will work with the cardiology team already at Dell Children’s but also might add additional doctors as he grows the program.
“I’m like a kid in a candy shop with the different programs we can develop,” he says.
Fraser does not believe the program will include heart transplants, maybe eventually, but not in the short-term, he says. Instead, it will be about a high level of care and taking on more complex cases, he says.
While his focus is pediatric, the center also will treat adults who, because of medical advancements, are now living with congenital heart defects that would have killed them in childhood. “It’s a population that didn’t exist a generation ago,” Fraser says.
This is the second announcement of this type this month. Earlier Dell Children’s announced that pediatric neurologist E. Steve Roach will lead pediatric neurology, with a focus on neurological disorders such as epilepsy, spina bifida, movement disorders, autism, stroke, headaches and brain tumors. Roach is leaving Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and The Ohio State University. He’ll help develop the new Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences at Dell Medical School.
Both moves are part of the school’s focus on a holistic approach to patient care, which will consider quality of life and the whole body, not just fixing the problem in which that doctor specializes.
Fraser has published studies on what effect heart surgeries have on a patient’s brain.
“We’ve made enormous progress fixing the heart,” he says when he compares what has been done in medicine since he left medical school in the early 1980s. Now, in what he calls “a new era in fixing the heart,” it’s about providing the best quality of life.
“Not only is Chuck one of the country’s top surgeons, he’s constantly pushing the threshold for improving the systems of care,” said Dr. Clay Johnston, dean of Dell Medical School, in a press release. “That makes him a perfect fit for the work that the medical school and our partners are doing to improve health in Austin and Central Texas.”