Living Donation

Before Your Heart Transplant

As you start your heart transplant journey at UPMC, we'll assign you a transplant coordinator. He or she will guide you through each stage of your heart transplant journey.

The transplant team addresses all aspects of getting ready for your new heart, including the:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Social
  • Financial

Along with your heart transplant coordinator, these team members include:

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

Pre-Heart Transplant Exams and Tests

Once you receive insurance consent for your pre-heart transplant evaluation, you can start making your appointments.

Because this series of tests and exams takes about a week to complete, you may want to stay in Pittsburgh. Family House offers affordable housing to people seeking treatment for serious illness. Each of the Family House homes provides patients and their loved ones a warm, safe place to stay.

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

Pre-heart transplant tests

Tests you may need include:

  • 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 assess the functions of your heart, lungs, and other bodily systems.

The heart transplant selection team will review your exam and test results to decide if a transplant is right for you. When possible, your care team will look for other heart failure treatments before moving forward with transplant.

Waiting for Your New Heart

If approved for heart transplant surgery, the financial team will work with your health insurance. Once we get your health plan's approval, we'll place you on the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) heart transplant wait list.

Status levels on the heart transplant wait list vary, from urgent need to stable on medicines at home. The need for steady IV medicines or a ventricular assist device (VAD) as a bridge to transplant would affect your status level.

Experts match donor organs to heart transplant patients of like size and blood type.

As you wait for a heart, you'll need to follow the diet and lifestyle guidance we gave you.

The heart transplant team is here for you throughout your entire transplant journey.

Call our office at 412-648-6202 or toll-free 844-548-4591 to learn more. Or fill out the UPMC Heart Transplant Program contact form to make an appointment or refer a patient.