After your heart transplant, you will:
- Start taking anti-rejection drugs right away. When your body detects something new, your immune system begins working to fight what it views as a threat. Anti-rejection drugs suppress your immune system's natural response, so your body will accept the new organ.
- Be in the Cardiothoracic ICU for about three days before moving to a room on the transplant floor.
- Stay in the hospital for about 10-14 days, but this varies based on how sick you are prior to your transplant.
During this time, the heart transplant team will:
- Watch for rejection, infection, or other problems.
- Teach you coughing and breathing exercises that you'll need to do often. These help keep your lungs clear and prevent pneumonia.
- Adjust your medications to find the right mix.
- Work with you and your caregiver to get ready for taking care of yourself at home.
- The nutritionist on your care team will also create and review an eating plan for you to follow at home.
Before you leave the hospital, make sure you and your caregiver clearly understand:
- Your medicine schedule
- The meal plan and nutrition guidelines
- Any other instructions for at-home care
- Your follow-up care schedule (blood work, clinic visits, and testing)
For people who need more help after heart transplant surgery, we may suggest spending time in inpatient rehab before going home.
Please feel free to ask members of your UPMC heart transplant team to explain anything you're unsure of and answer any questions you may have. We're here for you through each stage of your transplant journey.