A heart transplant is when a donor heart replaces a failing heart. Transplants are usually performed after other approaches are exhausted, but for some, it’s the best option.
As our patient, you have the full attention of our team, including board-certified cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, transplant nurse coordinators, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers and support staff.
If your heart failure is not improving despite therapy – an implantable mechanical circulatory support device helps circulate the blood in the body. Some patients receive these devices while waiting for a heart transplant, but many receive them as a stand-alone therapy.
Often called heart pumps, ventricular assist devices (VADs) replace only one heart chamber, instead of the entire organ, and pump blood from the main pumping chamber of your heart (left ventricle) through the body.
When multiple chambers of the heart muscle are failing, it is sometimes best to replace the entire heart with a pump, called the total artificial heart.
In order to be considered for a heart transplant, your transplant team will evaluate your psychological, social and medical history, conduct a physical examination, and perform various diagnostic tests.
Once you have been accepted as a candidate, you’ll be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) list. When a heart becomes available, recipients are selected based on the severity of their condition and their blood type. When selected, you will need to go to the hospital immediately.
Following surgery, your vitals and immunosuppression (anti-rejection) medications will be closely monitored. As you improve, you’ll begin physical therapy and breathing exercises. Your activity will gradually increase as you get out of bed and walk around for longer periods of time.
Once home, your activity will remain restricted and your rehabilitation will last for several months. It will also be important to take your anti-rejection medications, as these will be required for the rest of your life.