Heart transplant surgery or a cardiac transplant is a procedure typically performed on patients with end-stage heart failure. In this surgery, a damaged heart is replaced with a healthy one. The most common procedure of the surgery is to take a functioning heart from an ‘organ donor’ and implanting it into the patient. The patient’s own heart is either removed or replaced with the donor’s heart or, much less commonly, the recipient’s diseased heart is left in place to support the donor’s heart.
Heart transplant surgery is usually recommended when all other cardiac treatments are failed and when a person’s life is at risk because their heart no longer works effectively. Following are some of the common reasons why a cardiac transplant is recommended–
- Coronary heart disease – When fatty substances are built in the arteries supplying the heart, which block or interrupt blood flow to the heart.
- Cardiomyopathy – when the walls of the heart have become stretched, thickened, or stiff.
- Congenital heart disease – When the heart defects since birth.
Before making a decision to have a heart transplant, you will be recommended to try drugs, placing pacemakers, or exploring one of the many new surgical therapies. If all else fails, the last resort is to have a transplant. Before the transplantation, the surgeons will look into the following factors –
- If the patient is at risk of dying within the year because of the deteriorating health of his or her heart
- If the patient is suffering from end-stage congestive heart failure or serious coronary artery disease
- When no other treatment works to cure abnormal heartbeats/ rhythms
- The existence of Congenital Heart Disease
Heart Transplant- Procedure
Before the transplantation is done your surgeon will first check whether you are a suitable candidate for a transplant or not. Or if you need a new heart? If yes, then there will be additional tests that will be recommended by your surgeon to determine if you can handle the physical stress of the surgery and recovery of a heart transplant. Another major step to look into pre-surgery is finding the right donor if the donor’s heart becomes available tests are performed to see if the donor and the recipient are a good match or if there is any chance of rejection. Then the donor will also undergo evaluations to determine if they have the mental capacity to tolerate the transplant process and to care for them and manage an extensive drug regimen after surgery.
Your surgeon will ask you to pursue the following tests before your surgery
- Liver and kidney function tests
- Tests that will help determine whether your body will accept the foreign heart
- cancer detection test.