Heart transplant: What to expect | Ohio State Medical Center


In certain, very specific situations, the
heart condition that a patient has may progress to a point that our regular treatments will
not make the patient better. In those situations, a heart transplant may be the best way to
help the patient both feel better and live longer. Cardiac transplantation is a very
involved process in which we try to make sure first off that it is the right thing to be
done for a patient. We try to get to know patients from head to toe to be sure that
a heart transplant will truly make a patient feel better and to make sure that we will
not make things worse by undergoing such a major process and a major surgery. This evaluation
includes evaluation by our entire cardiac care team, including cardiac surgeons, heart
failure doctors, coordinators, social workers, pharmacists. One of the uncertainties about
a heart transplant is how long a patient may wait on the list. Unfortunately, this is a
condition and a situation that we cannot control completely. Once a patient is on the list,
we actively try to find the appropriate heart to transplant into the patient. For the lucky
patient where we do find a donor heart, the patient is often called on their cell phone
directly at home and told that a heart is available for them. They are then told to
come into the hospital in a safe manner and do so that evening or that day in order to
get their heart transplant a couple hours later. The recovery after the surgical procedure
of a heart transplant is typically about one to two weeks in the hospital and about six
weeks total to get better from the surgery itself. A heart transplant is a lifelong condition
where patients do have to be on specialized medicines to prevent rejection of the heart
for the rest of their life.

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