Heart transplantation surgery involves removing a diseased heart and replacing it with a healthy heart from an organ donor.
In most cases, the reason for heart transplantation is advanced heart failure caused by:
- Heart disease
- Viral infection
- Inherited conditions
Patients with advanced heart failure experience an increase in the frequency or severity of symptoms despite treatment. These symptoms can include:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Swollen legs, feet or abdomen
Patients with advanced heart failure may have trouble with normal daily activities like eating, bathing and grooming.
Many patients with heart failure manage their symptoms by:
- Limiting their fluid and salt intake
- Taking medicines
- Receiving a pacemaker or defibrillator
- Having heart surgery
Sometimes, however, a patient's heart failure may still get worse. These patients may benefit from a heart transplant. Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons examine these patients to evaluate if a heart transplant would help them. After a comprehensive evaluation and testing, patients that will benefit from a heart transplant are registered with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). This network will help find them a donor heart.
Experts in Heart Transplantation
The Northwestern Medicine Heart Transplantation Program has extensive experience with heart transplantation. This collaborative, multi-disciplinary team brings together a full range of advanced heart failure expertise to benefit heart transplant patients. The Northwestern Medicine Heart Transplantation Team includes specially trained:
- Cardiac surgeons
- Advanced practice providers
- Social workers
The Northwestern Medicine Heart Transplantation Program is a Medicare-approved program, a Blue Distinction® Center for Transplants and an OptumHealthSM Transplant Center of Excellence.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital was the first program in Illinois to use the TransMedics Organ Care System (OCS™) for heart transplantation. This innovative system increases the number of available hearts for transplant by up to 30% in the United States.