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.
Patient Monitoring Before Surgery
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) Surgery
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.
Why Have Ventricular Assist Device Surgery?
Our cardiac specialists use VADs for three main purposes:
As a bridge to transplantation, temporarily supporting a patient who is waiting for a heart transplant.
As a bridge to recovery, for a patient with a potentially reversible form of cardiac failure. The device is implanted to assist the heart while it recovers, and is removed if the recovery is successful.
For a patient who has irreversible heart failure but is not an ideal candidate for a heart transplant, a VAD may be used as destination therapy, helping to support circulation for many years.
After Heart Transplant Surgery/Post-Transplant Care
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.
Preventing Organ Rejection
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.
Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program