Heart transplantation during infancy is a life-threatening event, and when successful, the treatment is a life-long process and the potential for life-threatening consequences never ceases. As a result, parents can be impacted in many ways by this traumatic and demanding experience that begins with the initial diagnosis of their infant and continues into the long-term life course of these children. This life-long process has the potential to cause symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder as well as elevated levels of stress in parents. This study examined parental self-reported post-traumatic stress symptoms and parental stress in parents of children who received a heart transplant in infancy. A total of 15 biological parents of infants transplanted 7-21 years prior responded to mailed surveys assessing post-traumatic stress symptoms and parental stress. The results demonstrate that even 7-21 years post-infant transplant parents report symptoms of post-traumatic stress and an elevated level of parental stress. It was also found that parental stress was more accounted for by child characteristics than parent characteristics. Further, lower levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms were found to be associated with longer time since transplantation, whereas higher levels of parental stress were associated with longer time since transplantation. In addition, parental stress levels were found to be associated with post-traumatic stress levels. While the sample size in the current study is small, these results reflect the importance for further investigation in this area and indicate a need to provide support for parents of infant heart transplant recipients throughout the course of their child’s life.

LLU Discipline





Graduate Studies

First Advisor

Mary Catherin Freier

Second Advisor

Todd Burley

Third Advisor

Richard Chinnock

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Heart Transplantation -- in infancy and childhood -- psychology; Psychology, Clinical; Depression -- in infancy and childhood -- surgery; Stress Disorders; Post-Traumatic -- surgery; Parents -- psychology.


Doctoral Project

Page Count

x; 79

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives