A heart transplant is a surgical procedure that replaces the diseased heart of a person with the healthy heart of a deceased donor. A heart transplant is carried out on persons who have end-stage heart failure.
Heart failure refers to a condition where the heart is weak or damaged. Therefore, it is unable to pump the blood needed by the body. By the end, the stage is meant a condition where all other treatments have failed. To remove the donor’s heart, two or more health care personnel must declare that the donor is brain dead.
Naturally, there is a short supply of heart donors. Patients who require heart transplants undergo a careful selection process. They need to be sick enough to require a new heart and healthy enough to accept it.
Survival rates of those who undergo heart transplant have improved much, especially in the first year. Asper every cardiac surgeon India, 88% of patients survive for a year after surgery and 75% for five years. The rate of survival for 10 years is 56%. Most patients can return to normal activity after surgery.
The process begins when a doctor refers a patient to a heart transplant center. The staff at the center evaluate whether the patient is eligible for surgery. If found eligible, he or she is put on a waiting list for donor’s hearts.
When a suitable donor heart is found, the heart transplant is conducted in a hospital. After the surgery, the patient is started on a lifelong health care plan. This plan is made of multiple medications and regular medical check-ups.
When Is Heart Transplant Required?
It is mainly required for end-stage heart failure. Other treatments are not working and it is the last stage for the heart. Some causes of heart failure are:
- Heart muscle contracting viral infection
- Heart attack (Myocardial infarction).
- Heart valve disease
- High blood pressure
- Congenital heart defects
- Irregular heart beat
- Drug abuse and alcoholism
- Lungs having high blood pressure
- Chronic disease of the lung likes emphysema
- Enlargement and thickening of heart muscle
- Low count of Red Blood Cells
These are some of the causes of heart failure.
Risks of Heart Transplant Surgery:
Potential risks after heart surgery are:
- Formation of blood clots that will harm heart and lungs
- Loss of blood
- Kidney failure
- Breathing problems
- Hardening and thickening of blood vessels
- Failure of transplanted heart
One important issue is the rejection of donor’s heart by the immune system of the body. Hence patient may have to consume medicines that trick the body to accept the new heart and prevent it from attacking the new heart.
Team for Surgery:
Before a transplant, one will be evaluated by a medical team. The team consists of a transplant cardiologist, transplant surgeon, transplant nurses, psychologist and social worker. There may be others like a dietitian, anesthesiologist, hospital administrator and even, a chaplain. For a good team, the main issue is to consult one among famous heart transplant doctors in India.
Prior to surgery, patient must undergo:
- Social and psychological evaluation: Presence of support networks, financial issues and stress levels
- Blood tests
- Diagnostic tests
- First few days, patient will be in I.C.U (Intensive Care Unit)
- Healthcare team will monitor closely impact of medication
- Nurses and therapists will work with the patient for breathing exercises and physical therapy.
- Doctor will advise on transfer to private room
- Healthcare team will advise a patient on return to home and follow up the program.
This is in sum, the nature of heart transplant surgery.