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Heart Transplant FAQs

The Banner Health heart transplant team is committed to informing you and your loved ones at every stage of care. Read on to learn the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about heart transplants. Talk to your doctor for additional information.

Q: How long is heart transplant surgery?

A: The time for a heart transplant surgery can vary from patient to patient, however, typically the range is 3-7 hours. Your doctor will discuss your specific surgery and the timeframe expectations with you and your loved ones.

Q: How long will I be on the waitlist for a heart?

A:  Once you have been approved as a heart transplant candidate, you will be added to the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) heart transplant waitlist. From there, wait times vary, and your placement on the list may also vary based on your individual needs.

Other factors that may affect your wait time include:

  • Donor heart availability
  • Height and weight
  • Geographic location

Your doctor and heart transplant team will communicate with you consistently throughout your wait to ensure you feel informed at every step of the process.

Q: What's the age range eligibility for heart transplants?

A: Heart transplants can be performed on anyone, at any age, including newborns. However, as we age, other options may become more suitable. Patients age 70 and older may benefit more from an alternative heart treatment option. Talk to your doctor about the best option for you and learn more about heart transplant qualifications.

Q: Why would I need a heart transplant?

A: If your heart is failing, your doctor may recommend a heart transplant. There are a variety of reasons or conditions that may make a heart transplant the best option for you, including:

  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Heart defects present at birth
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Viral infection affecting the heart muscle
  • Heart valve disease

Learn more about the reasons a heart transplant may be performed.

Q: What's the average life expectancy after a heart transplant?

A: Life expectancy following a heart transplant can vary based on age, overall health and individual response to the transplant. It’s also important to have regular follow-up care, see your doctor if you experience any new symptoms and take all medications as prescribed to decrease your chances of complications.

Following a heart transplant, quality of life generally improves significantly with patients being able to return to work and life activities.

Q: Can I approach or contact the family of my donor heart?

A: Banner Health is committed to protecting your privacy. Depending on the desires of both you and the donor family, you may have the option to reach out to the donor family. Your heart transplant team will discuss these options with you once a heart becomes available.

Q: Who will be on my heart transplant team?

A: Your Banner Health heart team can include:

  • Primary Care Provider
  • Heart Transplant Surgeon
  • Registered Nurse or Physician Assistant
  • Nurse Coordinator
  • Social Worker
  • Registered Dietitian
  • Psychologist/Psychiatrist

Banner Health provides a collaborative, holistic team who is committed to working with you as you prepare for heart transplant surgery through your recovery and beyond.