Heart Transplant Evaluation and Monitoring

All advanced heart disease patients who are referred to our program are thoroughly evaluated to determine whether a heart transplant would be the most appropriate treatment for their condition and goals.

Once the care team and the patient have committed to pursuing transplantation as a treatment, a comprehensive series of screenings will be performed to determine whether the patient is indeed a suitable candidate for a new heart. This thorough evaluation involves the patient, their family, and our entire Advanced Heart Disease team – surgeons, cardiologists, nurses, social workers, dietitians, and other medical professionals. The objectives of this process are to determine whether there are any physical and/or psychosocial conditions that could affect the chances of having a successful transplant and to give the patient and their family an opportunity to learn more about our program. The examinations we perform may include:

  • Medical history
  • Physical exam 
  • X-rays
  • Blood tests
  • Skin tests
  • Neurologic tests
  • Heart function tests
  • Kidney, liver, and lung function tests
  • Dental exam
  • Social worker interview

If, upon completion of the screening process, a candidate is accepted for transplantation, we set out immediately to identify a suitable donor. We will add the patient to regional and national lists of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and begin working with the New England Organ Bank (NEOB) team to find a donor who matches the recipient’s requirements – e.g., similar age, matching blood type. The allocation of organs is based upon a point system that takes into account medical urgency, time on the waiting list, and blood type compatibility.

Patient Monitoring

Patients and families should be aware that the wait for a donor heart could last many months. It is important that a patient be in the best possible physical condition throughout this waiting period. Being in good shape when an organ becomes available improves the likelihood of positive outcomes.

Just as our evaluation process is thorough, so is our patient monitoring. The Advanced Heart Disease team meets weekly to provide updated evaluations on each patient in the program. Whether a patient is being considered for a transplant, is on the waiting list, or is undergoing an alternative treatment, each patient’s condition and care is discussed thoroughly to determine whether any interventions or care modifications are necessary.

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