How is heart transplant surgery performed?

When a donor organ becomes available, patients must proceed to the hospital immediately. Upon admission, they will undergo preoperative tests such as blood work, chest x-ray, and urine testing. Patients will begin receiving intravenous antibiotics and a dose of immunosuppressant medication.

After anesthesia is administered, the patient is then placed on the heart-lung machine. This machine circulates and oxygenates the blood during the operation. While this is taking place, the organ donor team is preparing and transporting the donor organ to the operating room.

When the donor organ arrives, the patient's chest is opened, the diseased heart is removed from the arteries, and the new heart is carefully connected to the arteries. After the new heart begins to function, the patient is removed from the heart-lung machine.

The chest is closed with stainless steel wires, and the fatty tissues and skin are closed with absorbable sutures. This ensures the best cosmetic result in healing and avoids the need for later removal of sutures.

Surgery takes four to six hours on average, and may take longer.

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