How long will it take for me to get a heart transplant?
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how long you will have to wait for a donor heart. The wait time is dependent on several factors including the urgency for transplantation, the size of the heart, blood type, tissue type and how long you have been on the waiting list. The time may vary from several days to months or, in some cases, years. Focus on staying healthy during the waiting period.
What happens if my condition gets worse while I wait for a donor heart?
Members of the transplant team will evaluate you regularly and adjust medical treatment as necessary. Sometimes patients may need hospitalisation to support them during the waiting period. Occasionally we might recommend other procedures, or mechanical circulatory support devices are necessary. Our team will ensure you have the appropriate care for your needs.
How long will I be in the hospital after my transplant surgery?
After the surgery, you will typically spend 5 to 7 days in the cardiac ICU and about 5 to 7 days on the transplant observation rooms. During this time, you will be constantly monitored to ensure that your new heart is functioning well and that there are no complications from the surgical procedure. You also will begin taking special medications to help prevent your body from rejecting your new heart.
Before you are discharged, you and your family will receive education and instructions about how to manage your medications, take care of your surgical incision, and schedule follow-up visits in our outpatient clinic.
What kind of medications will you prescribe?
Heart transplant recipients must take many different medications, each prescribed for a specific therapeutic reason. They fall into four categories:
- Immunosuppressants: Drugs and agents that shut down the body's natural immune responses that would damage your new heart.
- Antibiotics, antivirals, and fungicides: Drugs that fend off infection while your natural immune responses are disabled.
- Vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements: Compounds to aid your body in its efforts to heal and maintain proper functioning.
- Coronary disease prevention and antihypertensive medications: Drugs to prevent coronary artery disease and regulate blood pressure.
What are the post-discharge procedures?
After your hospital discharge, the post-transplant team will closely monitor you on an outpatient basis. This will include regular tests on your new heart, including blood tests, ECGs, heart biopsies, and clinic visits with the cardiologist. The transplant team will communicate with your cardiologist and primary care physician to provide seamless, coordinated care.
How soon can I return to work?
The appropriate time for you to return to work will depend on at least two factors: how you are feeling after surgery, and what type of work you will be doing. As soon as your incision is healed, and you are feeling well, you can discuss with your transplant cardiologist when to return to work. Some patients can return to work quickly. We encourage patients to resume working as soon as they feel ready and the transplant cardiologist considers the decision medically safe. Typically, most recipients can return to work within 6 months following surgery.