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A heart transplant is a surgical procedure performed to remove the diseased heart from a patient and replace it with a healthy one from an organ donor. Because of the wide range of information necessary to determine eligibility for transplant, the evaluation process is carried out by a transplant team. The team includes a transplant surgeon, a transplant cardiologist (physician specializing in the treatment of the heart), one or more transplant nurses, a social worker, and a psychiatrist or psychologist. Additional team members may include a dietician, a chaplain, and/or an anesthesiologist. Components of the evaluation process include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Psychological and social evaluation: Psychological and social issues involved in organ transplantation, such as stress, financial issues, and support by family and/or significant others are assessed. These issues can significantly impact the outcome of a transplant.
- Blood tests: Blood tests are performed to help determine a good donor match and to help improve the chances that the donor organ will not be rejected.
- Diagnostic tests: Diagnostic tests may be performed to assess your lungs as well as your overall health status. These tests may include x-rays, ultrasound procedures, computed tomography (CT scan), pulmonary function tests, and dental examinations. Women may receive a Pap test, gynecology evaluation, and a mammogram.
- Other preparations: Several immunizations will be given to decrease the chances of developing infections that can affect the transplanted heart.
The transplant team will consider all information from interviews, your medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests in determining your eligibility for heart transplantation.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.