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Living Donation

Beginning the Heart Transplant Process

When your heart failure symptoms progress to a point where medical management isn't giving you relief, you and your doctor may talk about heart transplant.

The first step in the transplant process is for your doctor to refer you to the UPMC Heart Transplant Program. We will also accept self-referrals.

Once referred to our program, our heart transplant team will:

  • Review your medical records.
  • Verify your insurance benefits
  • A credit analyst will contact you to discuss your coverage and financial responsibility
  • Determine if you're a good candidate for a heart transplant evaluation.
  • Get you started in the heart transplant process.

We work closely with your referring doctor to learn about your unique health problem and how you might benefit from a heart transplant.

At UPMC, our surgeons have more than 30 years of experience in heart transplant surgery. They accept some of the most complex cases and may evaluate you, even if other transplant centers have said that you are not candidate.

Heart Transplant Process

If the transplant team determines that you are a candidate for a heart transplant evaluation, you will begin the heart transplant process.

The three stages of the heart transplant process are:

  1. Evaluation. This stage begins after insurance approval. You'll go through a number of diagnostic tests and consults to see if you're a good candidate for heart transplant. These tests and consultations are on an outpatient basis and take about a week to complete. If you are approved for transplant, we will work with your insurance company to get authorization for transplant surgery.
  2. Waitlist. Once your insurance is approved, we will add you to the heart transplant waiting list and your heart failure cardiologist will manage your heart failure issues as you wait for a heart to become available.
  3. Surgery. When a donor heart becomes available, your transplant coordinator will call you to come in to the hospital for your transplant. You will receive specialized care throughout your stay.
  4. Recovery. After you leave the hospital, you will need to follow the guidelines from your care team to receive the most benefit from the gift of transplant. You'll receive details on diet, exercise, medicines, and follow-up appointments that you must carefully follow. Our team is committed to being with you for the rest of your life and to be there for you when you need us.

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