The first step of the decision making process for a heart transplant begins with a comprehensive and thorough assessment of the patient, the underlying causes necessitating a transplant and pre-existing conditions.
A patient becomes eligible for a heart transplant if there has been zero or little response to all others forms of treatment. However, the transplant surgery will not happen at the first instance itself. Instead the panel of doctors/surgeons treating you will put devise a comprehensive treatment plan which may involve other treatment procedures before the actual transplant takes place.
The condition that necessitates a heart transplant is congestive heart failure, also known as weakening of the heart muscles. This is a caused by heart attacks, high blood pressure, leaks in the heart valves, congenital heart conditions and irregular heart beating patterns. Additionally, pulmonary hypertension, excessive alcohol consumption, substance abuse, viral infections, pregnancy complications and diabetes can also result in weakened heart muscles - making you a candidate for a possible heart transplant.
The assessment stage provides sufficient time for both the surgeons and the patient/caregivers to have an in-depth discussion on the nature, need and nitty-gritty of the transplant procedure. The assessment phase will include discussions on the possible alternatives, the post treatment care and also the financial implications.
The severity of the condition and the urgency of the transplant is also discussed and determined. It is best to stay open-minded, inquisitive and come out fully aware of the surgical procedure. As a patient or caregiver you must understand the course of treatment undertaken thus far and the possible failures encountered. It is important to fully have the confidence in your treatment and surgical staff that the transplant surgery is the best possible alternative available.
Likewise, the surgical team will look to comprehensively evaluate and determine that a transplant will definitely help the patient and he/she will be able to undertake the rigorous of a surgery this complicated.