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A heart transplant is procedure where a new healthy heart replaces the old diseased and dysfunctional heart. It is a treatment procedure that’s usually reserved for people who have tried medications or other surgeries, but their conditions haven’t improved enough. Most of the donor heart comes from people who have died and who have pledged their vital organs. Their families support the noble cause and help in carrying out a heart transplant.
Choosing the Right Candidate for Heart Transplant:
Transplantation is the last resort chosen when all other modes of treating the heart have not been able to retrieve the failing heart and heart failure is so severe that it does not respond to any other therapy, and the recipient is otherwise healthy. It is also essential to understand how willing the patient is, to adhere to lifestyle is changes include dietary modifications, complex drug regimen and active lifestyle. These are few of the many strict parameters that are assessed before a candidate is considered suitable for heart transplant.
Once you have been chosen for heart transplant you will be added to the transplant waiting list. However, the wait time depends on finding the right donor heart and ensuring the perfect match between the two. This period id very unpredictable and may span anywhere between few days to years.
Once the donor is confirmed, the surgery is performed post a series of confirmatory test that confirm proper matching with least chances of host graft rejection.
- The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia.
- Surgeon makes a cut in your breastbone to reach to your heart. Your heart would be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine which facilitates blood circulation around your body.
- The process of transplantation is then executed and once it is over, the new heart should start beating and pumping blood. Your stability is essential and when it is confirmed the heart-lung machine will be turned off.
- The surgeon would then seal the cut with a wire
Post-surgery you would be kept under observation for a brief period, and once everything falls in place you will be discharged. You would need to follow-up actively with your transplant team to help them understand how your body is adjusting to the new heart.
You would be weak initially but that is temporary. Recovery is quick and soon your level of activity will increase, though activities like lifting weight will come slowly.
You will adhere to a strict medication regime and would take range of medicines, including immunosuppressants, for the rest of your life. These immuno suppressants prevent the body from detecting the transplanted heart as foreign; else it would be rejected by the body.
The good part is heart transplants are very successful and most of the heart transplant patients go on to live long and healthy lives.