A heart transplant is surgery to remove a damaged or diseased heart and replace it with a healthy donor heart.
Cardiac transplant; Transplant - heart; Transplantation - heart
Finding a donor heart can be difficult. The heart must be donated by someone who is brain-dead but is still on life support. The donor heart must be matched as closely as possible to your tissue type to reduce the chance that your body will reject it.
You are put into a deep sleep with
- Your blood flows through a heart-lung bypass machine while the surgeon works on your heart. This machine does the work of your heart while your heart is stopped, and supplies your body with blood and oxygen.
- Your diseased heart is removed and the donor heart is stitched in place. The heart-lung machine is disconnected. Blood flows through the transplanted heart.
- Tubes are inserted to drain air, fluid, and blood out of the chest for several days, to allow the lungs to fully re-expand.
- In some cases, the surgeon will not remove the old heart, but will put the new heart on top of it (heterotopic transplant).
A heart transplant may be done to treat:
anginathat can no longer be treated with medications or other surgeries
heart failure, when medicines, other treatments, and surgery no longer help
- Severe heart defects that were present at birth and cannot be fixed with surgery
- Life-threatening abnormal heartbeats or rhythms that do not respond to other treatments
Review Date: 05/04/2011
Reviewed By: Shabir Bhimji, MD, PhD, Specializing in General Surgery, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.