Andrea Markowitz, Ph.D.
February 17, 2010
According to the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org), 2,163 heart transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2008, but thousands more people could have benefited from a heart transplant if more donated hearts were available.
Heart transplants are surgeries in which a patient whose heart can no longer support them receives a healthy replacement heart from a donor who has an irreversible brain injury, but whose heart is still viable. Heart transplant patients are at risk of dying because their hearts have suffered irreparable damage, usually from conditions such as heart disease, heart valve disease, coronary artery disease, a congenital heart defect, viral infection, abnormal heart beats or rhythms, or multiple heart attacks. Other treatments are no longer effective in keeping their hearts functioning properly.
Preparation for Surgery
Your doctor will refer you to a transplant center where a transplant team will evaluate you to make sure you're an appropriate candidate for a heart transplant. Your evaluation may include blood, skin, heart, tissue and cancer tests, and x-rays. You'll be placed on a national heart transplant waiting list if the team finds you're a good candidate.
During the surgery: