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.
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.
Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are mechanical devices that are implanted in an open heart surgical procedure in the chest or upper part of the abdomen or connected to a pump outside of the body. VADs help the heart pump blood from the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) to the rest of the body. VADs may be necessary as a long-term treatment for patients who have heart failure or temporarily by patients waiting for a heart transplant or heart recovery from injury.
Our cardiac specialists use VADs for three main purposes:
Following surgery, patients will be taken into the intensive care unit to be monitored closely for up to several days. During that period, our medical team will look for signs of organ rejection or any other complications. Patients may remain on a ventilator during this period of observation.
After leaving the ICU, patients will typically remain in the hospital to recover for an additional week or more. After returning home, patients will return to the hospital for frequent check-ups during the next several months and then annually.
In recent years, heart transplantation has become increasingly successful through the development of immunosuppressive medications that better prevent rejection of donated organs. These drugs accomplish this by inhibiting the body's immune system from identifying the new organ as foreign.
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