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A thorough evaluation for all candidates.
Sharp HealthCare's heart transplant program offers a thorough, individual and convenient evaluation for all cardiac transplant candidates. Prospective patients for the cardiac program may call to schedule their own evaluation or have their physician call to schedule an appointment.
Step 1: Heart Transplant Evaluation
During the initial visit, potential heart transplant patients receive a comprehensive consultation with a transplant cardiologist, including a transplant evaluation. The consultation includes a complete history and physical, along with a review of pertinent medical records and all current medications. Patients also meet with a heart transplant coordinator, who will work with the transplant cardiologist to decide if further testing is needed to complete the evaluation.
Step 2: Selection of Patients for Heart Transplantation
When all testing is complete, the transplant team reviews the results and makes a recommendation. A decision is made whether or not to offer the patient a heart transplant based on the evaluation and the recommendations of all the heart transplant team members. This process usually takes two to four weeks, depending on insurance authorizations.
Step 3: Waiting for a Heart
Patients who are approved for transplant based on specific selection criteria are put on the transplant list and followed monthly or bimonthly by the transplant cardiologist and coordinator. For six months after the transplant procedure, the Sharp team provides all cardiac care. After six months, some care may be shared with the referring cardiologist and primary care physician.
The waiting period for a suitable donor heart can be very difficult — physically and emotionally. Patients may wait at home or in the hospital, depending on what treatment or devices are needed to aid in supporting their heart. Since the timing of the heart transplant is important, patients may need to move near the hospital temporarily so they're close by when a donor heart has been identified for them.
Step 4: Preparing for Heart Transplant Surgery
If patients are waiting at home, they will need to be ready to leave their home quickly after receiving a call from the heart transplant team. Items to pack include an overnight bag with toiletries and personal items such as eyeglasses and/or contacts, driver's license (photo ID), insurance information, a list of medications and allergies and a list of names and numbers of family and friends you may wish to contact while in the hospital. Additionally, patients should identify who will drive them to the hospital.
Patients staying in the hospital should also have a list of names and phone numbers of family and friends should they be informed by a doctor or heart transplant coordinator of a pending heart transplant.
Step 5: Heart Transplant Surgery
Surgery takes approximately four to six hours. Patients will be put to sleep by an anesthesiologist who will monitor the patient throughout the procedure. Once the patient's chest has been opened by the transplant surgeon in the operating room, the damaged heart will be removed and the new, healthier heart will take its place. The patient's chest will be closed with wires, sutures and/or staples.
Step 6: After Heart Transplant Surgery
After surgery, patients will be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) where family can see the patient during special visiting hours. Most patients remain in the ICU for two to three days and often are unable to speak.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's transplant services or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego heart surgeon or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about transplant, visit Heart Transplantation in Adult Health or read the Transplant News archive.
Please note that Sharp HealthCare does not control or endorse the information presented on external websites, nor do these websites endorse the information found on www.sharp.com.