Candidacy for heart transplants
Heart transplant candidates are those who’ve experienced heart disease or heart failure due to a variety of causes, including:
- a congenital defect
- coronary artery disease
- a valve dysfunction or disease
- a weakened heart muscle, or cardiomyopathy
Even if you have one of these conditions, there are still more factors that are used to determine your candidacy. The following will also be considered:
- Your age. Most prospective heart recipients must be under 65 years old.
- Your overall health. Multiple organ failure, cancer, or other serious medical conditions may take you off a transplant list.
- Your attitude. You must commit to changing your lifestyle. This includes exercising, eating healthy, and quitting smoking if you smoke.
- If you’re determined to be an ideal candidate for a heart transplant, you’ll be put on a waiting list until a donor heart that matches your blood and tissue type is available.
An estimated 2,000 donor hearts become available in the United States each year. Yet, approximately 3,000 people are on a heart transplant waiting list at any given time, according to the University of Michigan. When a heart is found for you, surgery is performed as soon as possible while the organ is still viable. This is usually within four hours.
What’s the procedure?
Heart transplant surgery lasts for approximately four hours. During that time, you’ll be placed on a heart-lung machine to keep blood circulating throughout your body.
Your surgeon will remove your heart, leaving the pulmonary vein openings and the back wall of the left atrium intact. They’ll do this to prepare you to receive the new heart.
Once your doctor stitches the donor heart into place and the heart begins beating, you’ll be removed from the heart-lung machine. In most cases, the new heart will begin to beat as soon as blood flow is restored to it. Sometimes an electric shock is required to prompt a heartbeat.
What’s recovery like?
After your surgery is finished, you’ll be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU). You’ll be constantly monitored, given pain medication, and outfitted with drainage tubes to remove excess fluid from your chest cavity.
After the first day or two after the procedure, you’ll most likely be moved from the ICU. However, you’ll remain in the hospital as you continue to heal. Hospital stays range from one to three weeks, based on your individual rate of recovery.
You’ll be monitored for infection, and your medication management will begin. Antirejection medications are crucial to ensure that your body doesn’t reject your donor organ. You may be referred to a cardiac rehabilitation unit or center to help you adjust to your new life as a transplant recipient
Recovery from a heart transplant can be a long process. For many people, a full recovery can span up to six months.
- Type of service
- Cost of service
- Starting from $4500