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How should I prepare for a cardiac transplant?

In most cases, preparation for a cardiac transplant will begin months before the surgery. You will undergo evaluation at a heart transplant center to determine the following: if your condition would improve with a heart transplant or if other measures can be tried; if your health is good enough to survive the surgery and recovery; if you can follow the lifestyle changes that will be required, including avoiding smoking; and if you have a good support network and can cope during the waiting period. Doctors will perform echocardiograms and cardiac catheterization will be done, and you may start medications such as anticoagulants. If you meet the transplant criteria, you will be put on a waiting list until a donor heart becomes available. If your own heart cannot adequately pump blood, you may receive a device that temporarily assists the heart. Immediately prior to the cardiac transplant, you may begin receiving immunosuppressant drugs. Transplant organs need to be used within four hours of removal from the donor so you will need to be accessible at all times and have a suitcase already packed for a hospital stay.

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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.