When a donor heart becomes available, your transplant coordinator will call you.
It's crucial that you get to the hospital right away. We ask people on the heart transplant waiting list to be within four hours of UPMC.
Before coming to the hospital for your heart transplant:
When you arrive at UPMC, we will prep you for your heart transplant surgery.
The donor team will inspect the heart to make sure it's good for transplant and a match for you.
In the meantime — to make sure you're in good health with no active illnesses — you'll:
Before moving you to the OR, the anesthesiologist will speak with you about what to expect. You'll receive general anesthesia and sleep through the heart transplant procedure.
You will also speak to one of the surgical team members to get consent for the transplant to take place.
The amount of time for a heart transplant depends on the complexity of your case and if you need other procedures.
If you do not have a VAD, surgery should take three or four hours.
If you have a VAD that needs to be removed, or you've had prior chest surgeries, it should take six to eight hours.
You may be in the OR longer than the actual procedure because the transplant team must work with the donor site.
While the length of survival for a transplanted heart continues to improve, the current median amount of time at our center is nine years, with the longest ever recorded at our center being 36 years and 10 months.
During your heart transplant, your surgeon and care team will:
After a donor heart is placed into an open chest, the surgeon attaches it to the surrounding major blood vessels. It should usually start beating once blood flow is restored, but an electric shock can be used to get it started if necessary.
Also called a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, this is what replaces the heart's pumping motion while it is outside of the body. It also adds oxygen to the blood and performs the job of the lungs. The machine can operate for hours.
After your heart transplant, you will:
During this time, the heart transplant team will:
Before you leave the hospital, make sure you and your caregiver clearly understand:
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.
To contact the UPMC Heart Transplant Program, please call 412-648-6202 or toll-free at 844-548-4591. You can also fill out the UPMC Heart Transplant Program contact form to make an appointment or refer a patient.