Heart Transplant Operations
A heart transplant is performed in patients with advanced heart disease who would not survive long without a new heart. There are over 2,000 heart transplants performed each year in the United States. Heart transplant surgery is best suited to cases where the heart is diseased but other body systems are not failing such as in kidney failure, liver disease, or problems with blood vessels in other parts of the body.
If your doctor feels that available medicines and procedures will not help your heart become stronger and able to maintain blood flow throughout your body, he may discuss the option of heart transplant surgery.
Finding a Heart Donor
The next step is to find a suitable donor heart.
This can take many months, since the waiting list for heart transplants is greater than the number of donor hearts available.
The Transplant Procedure
Actual heart transplant surgery will last around three hours. Like other open-heart surgeries, your chest is opened by breaking the sternum. The diseased heart is usually removed and the new heart is carefully attached to the remaining heart tissue and vessels. After surgery, you will remain in the hospital for close to two weeks.
As with any organ transplant operation, there is a risk of infection and a risk that the body may reject the new heart. Antibiotics and anti-rejection medications are given to reduce these risks. After heart transplant surgery, you will be monitored regularly by your team of doctors for progress and to test for tissue rejection.
After heart transplant surgery, keeping up a heart healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet, exercise, and a steady healthy weight is very important to helping your new heart stay healthy.