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The Heart Transplant Journey

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Preparing for Heart Transplant Surgery

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Preparing for Heart Transplant Surgery

A patient once placed on the transplant list will need to be prepared, available and ready for a transplant at any moment. The hospital staff can contact the patient and/or caregiver at any time a donor is available and arrange for a transplant procedure. Preparation for the heart transplant would require:

  • Communication channel to reach the patient
  • Emotional & mental preparation to undergo the surgery
  • Financial readiness to meet the transplant cost
  • Post-surgical care & management planning

Patients and caregivers must be aware of the condition, and the expected transplant procedure. This will help you gain confidence and make the transplant process a little less frightening. If you can, talk with people who have had transplants. Be sure to ask members of your transplant team any questions you may have.

It is advisable to seek a support group as they can be very helpful for you, your family and friends. There are a host of monthly support group for both patients and caregivers. Patients waiting for a donor organ are especially encouraged to attend. Our clinical social workers also offer a number of resources to help you cope and manage stress in a positive way.

Preparing for the Hospital Stay

Most patients undergoing a heart transplant will stay in the Intensive Care Unit for three to seven days. They are then transferred to the Step-Down ICU, for another five to seven days to the Intermediate care ICU before being transferred to a ward for a week and then a subsequent discharge from the hospital.

You will need to be accessible for at least 10 to 12 weeks after you leave the hospital and staying in the near vicinity helps. You may be ready to go home earlier, but it is always better to plan ahead. During the first month after your hospital stay, you need to have someone with you most of the time. This guideline depends on your progress. However, it is generally safe for your caregiver to leave you alone for brief periods.

  • Bring only personal items you will need during your stay, including reading material, avoid valuables and jewelry.
  • Electrical appliances mobile etc., are not allowed in the intensive care units.
  • Bring a pair of slippers or slip-on shoes for walking, please note that swollen feet and ankles are common after surgery so be prepared accordingly.
  • Come with a relaxed and open frame of mind, being agitated and restless can make it difficult for the surgery.