Living Donation

Before Your Heart Transplant

Heart Transplant Surgery Preparation and Evaluation

When you prepare for the heart transplant process at UPMC, you will be assigned a transplant coordinator.

He or she will guide you through each stage of the heart transplant process.

The Heart Transplant Team

UPMC's heart transplant team addresses all aspects of preparing for a transplant, including the:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Social
  • Financial

In addition to your heart transplant coordinator, these team members include:

  • Cardiologists
  • Transplant surgeons
  • Nutritionist
  • Pharmacist
  • Psychologists
  • Clinical social workers
  • Credit analysts
  • Researchers

Pre-Heart Transplant Evaluation and Tests

Once you receive insurance approval for your heart transplant evaluation, you can begin scheduling your evaluation appointments.

Because this series of tests and exams takes about a week to complete, you may want to stay in Pittsburgh during the pre-heart transplant evaluation. Family House offers affordable housing to people seeking treatment for serious illness. Family House is not a medical facility.

You will also need to have a caregiver come with you to each appointment. This person must meet with the transplant team and understand his or her role before, during, and after your transplant.

Pre-heart transplant tests

Tests that may be included in your evaluation are:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Heart catheterization
  • MVO2 (exercise stress test)
  • Chest x-ray
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Bilateral lower extremity Doppler and carotid Doppler
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen/pelvis
  • Blood work

These tests provide comprehensive data for the transplant team to assess the functions of your heart, lungs, and other bodily systems to determine if you're a candidate for transplant.

Whenever possible, the transplant team will look for alternative heart failure treatment options other than transplant.

Heart Transplant Waiting List

The heart transplant selection committee will review your evaluation results to determine if you are a transplant candidate.

If approved as a candidate for heart transplant surgery, the financial team will work with your insurance to get authorizations. Once approved, you will be registered as a heart transplant candidate on the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) wait list.

Status levels on the heart transplant wait list vary, from urgent need to being stable on medicines at home. Your status level would be affected by the need for continuous intravenous (IV) medicines or a ventricular assist device (VAD) as a bridge to transplant. Donor organs are matched to heart transplant candidates of similar size and blood type.

As you wait for a heart, you will need to follow the diet and lifestyle guidance you received during the pre-heart transplant evaluation.

The heart transplant team is here for you throughout the transplant process. Do not hesitate to call the Cardiothoracic Transplant office at 412-648-6202 or toll free 844-548-4591 for additional information.

You can also fill out a Contact Form to schedule an appointment with the UPMC Heart Transplant Program, or to refer a patient.