What is a heart transplant?
A heart transplant is a surgical treatment for patients with advanced congestive heart failure. In this surgery, a heart from someone who has recently passed away is donated to the patient. The patient’s own heart is removed, and the donor heart is placed into their body.
Who is a candidate for a heart transplant?
Patients become a candidate for a heart transplant after a rigorous review process. The typical patient has congestive heart failure that has failed all other mediations. There is a limited supply of hearts available for heart transplantation, so a multidisciplinary team examines each patient closely to ensure that the patients are in fact appropriate candidates.
What happens when a patient is found to be a candidate for heart transplantation?
When a patient becomes a candidate for heart transplantation, they are then added to a wait list maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The waiting time for a suitable donor varies for each individual and will be explained in detail by the transplant cardiologist.
What happens once a donor is found?
Once a suitable donor is found to match the patient in need for heart transplantation, the patient is called to the hospital for surgery. The patient is then prepared for surgery. Patients may stay in the hospital for several weeks, but this can vary depending on the patient. Once the surgery is completed, a team of specialists including, the surgeon, cardiologist, nurse specialist, physical therapist, dietician, and social worker follows up the patient. Patients are also referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program to help them get back to an active physical lifestyle.