What is Heart Transplant?
Heart transplantation, or a Cardiac transplant, is the process of replacing a weak and failing heart with a strong and healthy heart from a donor through surgery. A heart transplant is a major surgery and It is done when other ways to manage the heart are not working.
The heart is a muscular organ found behind the breastbone. It is the size of a first and moves slightly to the left. It pumps blood that is used by the body cells for its survival through:
- Aiding in transporting nutrients around the body
- Protect the body from infection through the immune system
- Helps to the body temperature
- Helps to maintain the fluid balance in the body.
Reasons for Heart Transplantation
Heart Transplantation is mostly recommended when the diseased heart is not responding to other medications and management processes, leading to heart failure.
What is heart failure?
Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer carry out its main function of pumping blood for circulation in the body. Heart failure occurs when the artery or arteries of the heart gets narrowed or blocked, as a result, the heart can not pump sufficient blood needed by the body cells for survival and increases the blood pressure In the body.
What causes heart failure?
Heart failure may the causes of the following factors such as:
- The disease of the artery
- Ventricular arrhythmia; when the heart is producing abnormal rhythm that is not responding to treatment
- Congenital heart defect; when someone is born with it. It is one of the main reasons for heart failures in children
- When the muscles of the heart are become weaken.
Criteria for a Heart Transplantation
Before having a heart transplant, certain factors have to be considered. They include:
- The age of the recipient as to a large extent determines the recovery rate of the recipient. It varies from country to country.
- Medical history of cancer and infections
- Examination for kidney disease, liver disease, or lungs disease to certain the type of procedure to be used
- Have to be an end-stage heart disease
- Must have avoided alcohol and smoking for at least 3 months before surgery
- Should have enough financial strength to manage the post transplant living conditions
- Must have a life expectancy of at least a few years
Preparations and procedures for Heart Transplant?
After picking a good surgeon and hospital—the next step is to undergo series of test to ascertain your state of health. After that, you will be placed on a waiting list to get a matching donor, that is why your life expectancy should at least be a year.
The waiting period is dependent on
- Getting a good match for your heart
- How severe your condition is.
- Blood group and genotype
- The size of your heart
You will also have to undergo some psychological and financial counselling.
Prior to the surgery:
- After receiving a call to come by the hospital, you must be there within 4 hours
- Do not eat or drink anything within the hours of coming to the hospital
- Pack your phone and charger
- You have to bring your medications including your ventricular assist device- they aim to support the heart and extend your life expectancy while waiting for your new heart-if you have any.
In the surgery:
- You will be given general anesthetic
- Then a heart-lungs bypass machine to keep the in flow of oxygen is made.
- After that , an incision is made on the chest
- The rib cage is opened and the diseased heart removed and the healthy heart sewn in its stead.
- Then major blood vessels are attached to the new heart for blood flow into the new heart
- Electrical shoes are employed to help help the new heart beat properly
- You will be given some pain medications to help relieve the pain
- Fluids and medications will be given intravenously
- You will be places in the intensive care unit for some days before being moved to a regular room
- The number of days varies from person to person depending on the surgical procedure used
- You will be monitored intensely for the first few months for signs and symptoms of rejection.
- You will also undergo heart biopsies; a tube is inserted into a vein in your neck and directed into your new heart. A sample is gotten and taken to the lab for signs of rejection
- You will be placed on anti-rejection drugs
- You will be placed on cardiac rehabilitation programs to help you adjust to your new lifestyle.
How many hours does a Heart Transplant takes?
A heart transplant may take up to 4-6 hours to perform, depending on how complicated the surgery may turn out to be.
Possible Complications of Heart Transplantation
Complications encountered with heart transplantation may include:
- Blood clotting
- Excess blood loss
- The body may rejection the donated heart
- Primary graft failure may occur-failure of the donated heart to function
- Cardiac allograft vasculopathy-thickening of the arteries
- Kidney damage due to side of immunosuppressants
- Reduced ability of the body to fight infections and disease because of the immunosuppressive.
Recovery and Success Rates
Worldwide the survival rate is more than 85 percent after one year and 69 percent after 5 years in the recipient of heart. Survival also is dependent on certain factors but with the advance in medical technologies, mortality rate has reduced as compared to when it actually started.
Can the new heart fail?
It could fail for some reasons which could be age, recipient inability to recover, or primary graft failure. Heart Transplantation is not for everyone and is suggested when other options are not yielding positive results.
Cost of Heart Transplant?
The cost of Heart Transplantation varies in different countries. Most countries do not provide heart transplant for foreigners. India is one of teh very few countries which provide harvested organs to foreigners provided they meet certain laid down criteria.
Where to do a Heart Transplant?
This is a major fact that is very crucial to the success of the transplant. Many countries and hospitals are now capable of performing heart transplant surgeries including the US, Canada, Germany, France, UK, India etc.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is the life expectancy of a heart transplant?
According to a report by Mayo clinic, over an estimates of 85 percent of recipient survival after one year and 69 percent after 5 years. Life expectancy is mostly dependent on the recipient life style, properly following the necessary medications and a positive attitude.
- What is the cost of a heart transplant?
The cost of heart transplant varies from country to country. It ranges from 50,000 $ upto 400,000$.
- Can I get a donor in another country?
Most countries do not allow foreigners to receive donor hearts. India is one of the very few country which allows foreigners to register for heart transplant to enable them to receive heart from a donor. There are very strict criteria and requirements for registering and is overseen by a nominated Government Transplant Committee.
- Can heart failure occur in children?
It is very possible for heart failure to occur in children and this can be due to congenital heart defect or cardiomyopathy.
- What is the cost of heart transplantation?
Heart Transplantation involves a delicate process with much expertise, hence its cost varies according to the transplant centre involved and also proper medical consultation with your surgeon. Anavara can help you get in contact with reliable surgeons with good experience at an affordable price.
- What is rejection?
Rejection occurs when the body’s defence system sees the donated heart as a strange material in the body and attacks it. You will be given medications to prevent it.
- What are the signs of rejection in heart transplant?
Rejection could happen without showing symptoms, so you will have to undergo a biopsy of the donated heart. Some symptoms that may show includes shortness of breath, fatigue, urinary difficult, weight gain.etc