The heart transplant operation is a serious, often a risky surgery and it is not the solution to all heart diseases. Heart transplantation is recommended only when successive heart failures lead to severe heart disability and it is known that it will not continue to function for long. Also, by the cardiologists, it is assessed whether a patient would survive a heart transplant operation or not.
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Duration Of Operation
Before the operation, the patients must undergo several tests, with the results of these tests, the doctors would decide if the heart transplant surgery is safe for them. Also, cancer cells are searched by the medical team who will perform heart transplantation operation since cancer makes this surgery impossible. To perform a heart transplant operation, a heart donor with a compatible blood group is required. Heart donors are usually people with brain death, who themselves or whose families agreed for heart transplantation. Some patients experience difficulties finding a suitable heart transplant in the time since there are more heart transplant patients than potential heart donors.
How It Is Performed
The heart transplant operation is performed in three stages. During the first stage of heart transplantation surgery, a cardiologist along with medical team removes the heart from the donor’s body. After the heart transplant operation needs to be performed within hours from removal and the heart needs to be kept on ice until the last stage begins. During the second stage of heart transplant operation, the surgeon removes the old heart from the patient’s body and plugs the patient to a machine that functions as a heart until the heart transplantation process is finished. In the third stage, which is the last stage of the procedure, the surgeons place the heart from the heart donor into the heart transplant patient's body and connect it with the blood circulation system. After, the incision site is closed, and the operation is completed.
After the operation, for a couple of days, the patients are kept in intensive care to observe the donor's heart. After, the patients stay in the regular rooms. After the heart transplant, the patients generally stay in the hospital for around a week after that they are let go. Also, during heart transplant recovery, the patients get used to several medications that are taken to prevent heart transplant rejection along with other post-operational complications. Some of the patients choose to not work after the operation. However, it is known that working after heart transplantation operation is quite normal and it is probably better for the patients.
Since heart transplantation is a serious open-heart surgery, it involves some risks and complications. The most significant risk of heart transplant surgery is heart transplant rejection. Several immunosuppressing drugs need to be taken by the patients to prevent transplant rejection but still, they may not be strong enough. In such cases, a new heart transplant or other alternative solutions would be discussed. Also, heart transplant operation involves some other risks such as infections, heart diseases including heart failure and cardiovascular disease, in addition to the damage to other vital organs caused by medications regularly prescribed to heart transplant patients.
The heart transplant operation has several side effects such as lowered immunity to infections due to medications that are taken to prevent the heart transplant patients’ bodies from rejecting donor hearts.
With the develops of new techniques and new generations of medications, the success rate of the heart transplant operation increases. An average heart transplant life expectancy is as high as 9 years and grows. 1-year heart transplant success rate is at 87%, while 5-years heart transplant success rate is estimated to be 57%.
What Is a Heart Transplant Surgery? Heart transplant operation is a kind of open-heart surgery in which a cardiologist with supporting medical team performs heart transplantation for patients whose own hearts are unable to function normally. Heart transplant surgery is only performed in cases of serious heart diseases.
How Long Do Heart Transplants Last? On average, a heart transplant life expectancy is estimated to be 9 years on average.
How Many Heart Transplants Can a Person Have? Every new heart transplant surgery is less likely to be successful. Additionally, donor hearts implanted through heart transplantation tend to last shorter and shorter with every heart transplant procedure performed. Up to the third heart transplant surgery is performed without bigger problems but statistically, the fourth heart transplant procedure prolongs patient’s life by only a few months.
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This content is written and reviewed by our medical content team in October, 2019.