Things to know about Heart Transplant

Heart transplant or cardiac transplant is a procedure which is carried out where a damaged or diseased heart is replaced with a healthy heart provided by a donor. It is used to treat the causes of heart damage when all the other methods of treatment have failed including, medication, lifestyle changes and less invasive procedures which weren’t successful.

The patient’s medical condition is thoroughly evaluated to determine his/ her suitability to undergo an operation to replace the damaged heart. Usually the patients who undergo heart transplant are those who have experienced heart failure due to reasons such as insufficient pumping by the existing heart, a malfunctioning electrical conduction system of the heart which is responsible for determining the heart rate, rhythm and sequence of contraction of the heart muscle, coronary artery disease, valve dysfunction, congenital defect, or a weakened heart muscle known as Cardiomyopathy etc. Apart from these causes of heart defect the patient must also qualify with certain other criteria before he is considered for heart transplant. Preferably, all the other organs in the body must be performing fine before undergoing a heart transplant. The patient must be under 65 years of age. In addition the transplant cannot be performed in patients suffering from an infection, cancer, or diabetes in their advanced stages. Smoking and alcohol consumption also negatively impact a person’s suitability for a transplant.

Due to an insufficient number of donors, heart transplant is not carried out on every patient where it is required. The donor heart should be compatible with the recipient’s tissue – type and immune system to reduce the chances of rejection by the recipient’s body. The donor must also be a person who is brain-dead, but still alive. Therefore the demand of the healthy heart far exceeds the supply of the heart and rigorous checks are performed to determine the patient with the most urgent need for a transplant that stand to benefit the most from a surgery.

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