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Overview: A heart transplant, or a cardiac transplant, is a surgical transplant procedure performed if you have advanced heart failure or severe coronary artery disease. A cardiologist may recommend a heart transplant procedure if you have tried medications or other surgeries, but your conditions didn’t sufficiently improve.
When you get a heart transplant, your diseased heart is replaced with a healthy heart from a deceased donor.
A donor for a heart transplant is an individual who may have recently died or become brain dead, which means that although their body is being kept alive by machines, the brain has no sign of life.Learn More
Once a donor heart is available, your surgeon will harvest the donor heart. The surgeon will make sure the donor heart is in good condition before beginning the transplant surgery. The transplant surgery will take place as soon as possible after the donor heart becomes available.
During a heart transplant, you will be placed on a heart-lung machine. This machine allows the body to receive vital oxygen and nutrients from the blood when your heart gets operated. Your surgeon will then remove your heart without removing the back walls of the atria and heart’s upper chambers. The backs of the atria on the new heart are opened and the heart is sewn into place. Your surgeon will then connect the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow through the heart and lungs. As the heart warms up, it begins beating. Your surgeon will check all the connected blood vessels and heart chambers for leaks before removing you from the heart-lung machine. The surgery should take 6 to 8 hours.
You will be advised to have heart-healthy diet (low fat, low salt) and drink plenty of fluids. You can exercise and are encouraged to exercise to improve the function of the heart and to avoid weight gain. However, due to several changes in the heart related to the transplant, you should speak to your cardiologists before beginning exercises.Learn Less
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