Heart transplant

In heart transplant your diseased heart is replaced with the heart of donor who has died and has left behind an agreement to donate his organs. From 1967, when heart transplant was first performed as an experiment, the procedure has come a long way. In US alone 2,000 transplants are performed in a year.

Heart transplant is a step taken by doctors as the last resort when your heart doesn’t respond to any other treatment. Some of the major reasons for heart transplants are defects of heart at birth, dilated cardiomyopathy, and severe coronary artery disease.

Destination & Price

In case of a heart failure, doctors usually resort to a procedure like implanting a pacemaker. If such procedures don’t work out, doctors might be forced to look for a heart transplant. The major difficulty in heart transplants is the lack of heart donors.

For a heart transplant, while you must be suffering from severe heart failure, your body should still be healthy enough for the procedure. If you are severely obese or have some serious illness, your heart transplant won’t be performed.

Before a heart transplant you will go through a long screening process where everything from your health to your social history will be examined. A team of experts from various fields will check if you will be able to lead a healthy and long life post the surgery. If they are satisfied, you will be placed on a transplant list. After that you will have to wait for a donor, which often times means a long wait. During this phase, the doctors will constantly monitor your heart and keep your heart failure in check through other available methods. The hospital will let you know as soon as donor heart is available.

As soon as a donor heart becomes available, doctors will surgically remove it from the body of the deceased donor and then keep it cool in a solution so that it stays alive. The doctors will keep a check on the condition of the donor heart. The heart transplant will proceed as soon as possible.

During the procedure, you will be connected to a heart'lung machine which will work as a substitute for the heart. The doctors will then proceed to remove your heart leaving back only the atria, the upper chambers of the heart. The new heart is then sewn into its place. Next thing, the doctors connect the blood vessels so that blood flows through the heart and lungs. The heart gradually starts beating. The doctors then check for leaks in the blood vessels and heart chambers and then they disconnect the heart'lung machine, letting the new heart work on its own.

The surgery can take up to 10 hours.

After the surgery you will be shifted to an ICU. A breathing machine will be attached to your body to ease your breathing. It will be removed after 6 to 8 hours.

In usual cases, you will be kept in the hospital for a week or two. Post that time, if your body doesn’t reject the new heart, you will be allowed to go home. A dietician will prepare a diet chart for you to follow post the surgery when you go home. You will also be asked to perform certain exercises regularly and to make sure you don’t put on weight. Your doctor will tell you about the medicines you should continue taking.