Newswise — NEW ORLEANS – The Nathanson Family Foundation has generously gifted Ochsner Hospital for Children $2.5 million to support the expansion of its Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Program led by congenital cardiac surgeon Dr. Benjamin B. Peeler.

The investment from Nathanson Family Foundation layers in expanded support for CHD patients and their families, further solidifying Ochsner’s reputation as the premier destination for pediatric cardiac care across the Gulf South. Initiatives focus on key milestone moments during the CHD journey – helping families navigate a new diagnosis, providing support transitioning from critical to intermediate step-down unit and expanding in-home monitoring. The Nathanson Family Foundation’s generous gift will also support expanding the Fetal Cardiology Clinic at Ochsner Baptist.

“The Nathanson family believes in the sanctity of life. We cannot think of a better need than the Ochsner Children’s Congenital Heart Defect Program led by Doctor Benjamin Peeler and his nationally renowned team. This program addresses the congenital heart needs for the most vulnerable of the Gulf Coast region, our children,” said Steve Nathanson. “Our gift further promotes the Ochsner Health goal of moving Louisiana from the 49th least healthy state in the country to the 40th position or higher by 2030. Our family looks forward to providing the resources needed to make Ochsner Health Children’s Congenital Heart Defect Program one of the top centers in the country.”

Dr. Peeler and his team of internationally renowned pediatric experts at Ochsner Hospital for Children offer one of the region’s most comprehensive programs and for four years running Ochsner’s surgical outcomes far exceeded national averages for congenital heart surgery. Ochsner’s congenital heart program provides patients with access to the most advanced treatments and technologies such as single ventricle repair with the Norwood procedure, valvular repair, ventricular assist device (VAD) implantation and heart transplants.

Congenital heart defects/diseases are the most common types of birth abnormalities, occurring in nearly 1 in 100 births. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 1 million children in the U.S. living with congenital heart defects. These conditions affect the heart walls, heart valves and blood vessels and can range from simple and symptomless to complex and life-threatening problems. About one in four babies born with a life-threatening or critical heart defect will require surgery within the first year of life.

“Expanding access to high quality pediatric heart care is an investment in the hearts and overall health of children across the Gulf South. We are grateful to the Nathanson Family Foundation for their support of our program and the families we serve,” said Dr. Peeler.

With a footprint spanning the state of Louisiana and into Mississippi, Ochsner Hospital for Children has offered exceptional pediatric care for more than 75 years. Ochsner Hospital for Children brings high quality pediatric care close to home, reducing barriers to healthcare – a key component of Ochsner’s 10-year vision to transform Louisiana into a healthier state by 2030. Ochsner Hospital for Children has an established pediatric emergency department in New Orleans, LA and recently opened pediatric super-clinics at the Ochsner Medical Complex – The Grove in Baton Rouge, LA and Ochsner Health Center for Children – River Chase in Covington, LA.

Ochsner Hospital for Children offers the only pediatric heart and liver transplant program in the state, serving over 76,000 children every year with more than 160 physicians specializing in more than 30 pediatric specialties and sub-specialties. For the fourth consecutive year, Ochsner Hospital for Children has been named among the top 50 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in hospital rankings and consumer advice. It is the only children’s hospital in Louisiana or Mississippi to receive this prestigious honor.

Ochsner Hospital for Children has a weekly parenting newsletter full of parenting & kids’ health must-knows, plus fun activities to keep your kids happy and healthy. Visit to subscribe. For more information about Ochsner’s congenital heart program or to make an appointment, please visit or call 504-842-5200. For more information about Ochsner Hospital for Children, please visit




About Ochsner Health

Ochsner Health is a system that delivers health to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Ochsner Health is a not-for-profit committed to giving back to the communities it serves through preventative screenings, health and wellness resources and partnerships with innovative organizations that share our vision. Ochsner Health healed more than 876,000 people from across the globe in 2019, providing the latest medical breakthroughs and therapies, including digital medicine for chronic conditions and telehealth specialty services. Ochsner Health is a national leader, named the top hospital in Louisiana and a top children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report. As Louisiana’s leading healthcare educator, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. Ochsner Health is innovating healthcare by investing in new technologies and research to make world-class care more accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner's team of more than 32,000 employees and 4,500 providers are working to reinvent the future of health and wellness in the region. To learn more about Ochsner Health, please visit To transform your health, please visit