A heart transplant involves a surgery for replacing the heart of a patient with the heart from an organ donor. It is done only in cases where the recipient is too sick to survive without transplant. This procedure has a high success rate and patients can live for many years without any complications.
The conditions that most likely result in end stage heart failure requiring heart transplant include:
- Cardiomyopathy- where walls of the heart become stretched or stiff
- Coronary artery disease-build-up of fatty substances in the arteries which block or interrupt blood flow to the heart
- Congenital heart disease-birth defects that impact the normal working of the heart
- Valvular heart disease-conditions involving damage to heart valves.
- Failure of a previous heart transplant
Heart failure in children is mostly caused by cardiomyopathy or congenital heart defects.
Heart transplants can be done for patients of any age though most heart transplants are done in patients not older than 65years. During the heart transplant surgery, a heart-lung bypass machine is used to keep the blood circulating with oxygen-rich blood. The patient’s heart is removed by making an incision in the middle of the chest following which the heart of the donor is connected to the main arteries and veins.
After the heart transplant surgery, a hospital stay of 2 to 3 weeks may be required. Patients can return to most of their normal activities in a few months. They will need to have regular check-ups and take immunosuppressants and other medication as per the doctor’s advice.
Patients also need to make modifications to their diet to keep the heart healthy and avoid complications like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. They should also exercise regularly to improve their physical and mental health.