The cardiothoracic surgeons at CTVS are the only surgeons in Central Texas who perform cardiac transplantations. Since performing the first heart transplant in Central Texas in 1986, they have performed numerous transplant procedures. Heart transplantation is a well-proven procedure and can dramatically increase an individual’s chances of survival as well as provide the best quality of life to those suffering end-stage heart failure.
What is Heart Transplantation?
When a person’s heart can no longer adequately pump blood to the rest of the body and other medical and surgical options have been exhausted, a heart transplant may be advised. Conditions that my lead up to this point are long-lasting coronary artery disease coupled with multiple heart attacks, long-lasting clinical heart failure, or even a viral infection.
If your doctor finds that your condition meets certain criteria, you will be deemed a candidate for heart transplantation and will be placed on a donor list.
What to Expect
An Orthotopic Heart Transplant is an open-heart surgical procedure wherein a surgeon will remove a failing heart and replace it with a healthy, donor heart. To remove the heart, your surgeon will stop your heart using a chemical solution and will place you on a heart-lung bypass machine. The bypass machine does the work of your heart and lungs while your surgeon removes your diseased heart and sews the donor heart into place. Blood is then re-directed from the bypass machine to your new heart. Sometimes, your surgeon will use electric shock to shock your heart back into a normal rhythm.
After the Procedure
The heart transplantation procedure usually requires a 1-2 week hospital stay, follow-up rehabilitation and close monitoring. Your physicians will prescribe immunosuppressants (anti-rejection medication) and will biopsy your heart tissue for signs that your body is rejecting the new heart. Heart transplant patients are required to take immunosuppressants for the rest of their lives, but as time passes, the risk of rejection decreases as does the amount of medications required.
Following transplant, it is likely that you will be able to return to work and resume most normal activities. Heart transplantation patients enjoy a high quality of life following their recovery. With an 85-90% survival rate 3 years after surgery, heart transplantation is a proven medical therapy.
Who is a Candidate for Heart Transplantation?
You and your doctor will consider many factors when deciding whether or not you are a candidate for heart transplantation. The indications for heart transplantation are:
• A patient with inoperable coronary, valvular or congenital heart disease
• A patient with end-stage heart failure
• A patient who does not have comorbidities that may reduce his or her life expectancy or put the individual at risk for post-operative complications
• A patient for whom all other therapies for heart disease have failed