Heart Transplant: Procedure and Complications
Heart Transplant or Cardiac Transplant is a surgical procedure in which a diseased heart (of a recipient) gets transplanted for a healthy heart (from a donor). The heart donor is someone who had died (brain-dead). Cardiac transplant is indicated in cases of the terminal illness of the heart when all other surgical and medical interventions have failed to give the desired results.
The first successful heart transplant was in 1967. Heart transplant has become very common in 2019 with around 3,500 heart transplants.
Contra-indication for Cardiac Transplant:
A Heart Transplant or Cardiac Transplant is not indicated for persons with:
- Terminal or advanced stage of kidney, lungs or liver disease.
- Having cancer.
- A person having life-threatening diseases, unrelated to heart either systemic disorders or acute infections.
- People having a disorder of the blood vessels, especially of neck and legs arteries.
- People with pulmonary hypertension.
- For people with uncontrolled diabetes with severe dependency on insulin.
- Highly obese people.
- People with a history of strokes and blood clots.
- Old adults especially people who are above sixty-five years old.
- People who consume too much alcohol and smoke tobacco.
Procedures followed just before the surgery
As soon a heart donor is found, the recipient is called to the hospital as soon as possible. The donor’s heart is removed first, as the heart muscle starts to die within 4-5 hours after the extraction. The recipient is then checked for the compatibility with the donor’s heart. If the donor’s heart is compatible with the recipient’s heart then the doctors go ahead with the surgery.
During the procedure:
- A heart transplant is a time-consuming and complex surgery.
- The patient is first sedated and then the doctors connect a heart-lung machine to the patient.
- The surgeon then opens up the rib cage exposing the diseased heart.
- Sometimes the diseased heart is left in the recipient body or sometimes removed.
- The donor’s heart is then placed in the place of the diseased heart.
- All major blood vessels are connected to the donor’s heart.
- Sometimes the donor’s heart needs some electric shock to work properly.
- The incision is then closed and sutured.
- administer Pain-killers to reduce pain.
- The patient is kept on a ventilator for a few days in the ICU.
- Monitor the patient for any signs and symptoms for rejection of organs such as fever, edema, less urination, weight gain.
- Follow-up with the doctor often and get the blood test, ECG and heart biopsy done as advised by the doctor.
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
Lifestyle changes after surgery:
- Take medicines regularly as advised by the doctor.
- Avoid crowded places as you are on immunosuppressant/s that make you more likely to develop an infection.
- Keep weight in check.
- Take care of your blood sugar and blood pressure levels within normal limits.
- Do not smoke tobacco
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid alcohol consumption