Heart Transplant Candidacy: Criteria and Requirements

Heart transplant or cardiac transplantation is an operational process in which the patient’s unhealthy heart is replaced by a well-functioning heart of some donor.
But heart transplant is not some normal surgery. Instead, it is a critical procedure that involves various steps. So doctors don’t recommend it unless and until it is the last option left to treat the patient.
So whom do doctors recommend a heart transplant? Why is it recommended? If these questions are arousing in your mind, don’t worry, for we will be clarifying all of them further.

What makes a person a heart transplant candidate?

  • Doctors recommend a heart transplant to a patient whose cardiac muscles grow weak and insufficient to work well.
  • It is only recommended if all medical equipment and other medical therapies fail to help the individual.
  • A heart transplant is needed if diagnosed with any of the following diseases-
  1. Coronary heart disease
  2. Cardiomyopathy
  3. Advanced heart failure
  4. Valve problem
  5. Arrhythmia or occurrence of an abnormal heartbeat
  6. Congenital heart disease is when the heart problem is since the birth of the individual.
  • The patient must be less than sixty-nine years of age to be eligible for a heart transplant.
  • The person should not have cancer or any liver or kidney disease.
  • Should not be an alcoholic or drug addict.
  • There should be no active infection.

If the person falls under the category mentioned above and at least two doctors have recommended a heart transplant, then that person is sent for a final evaluation. After that, the person’s name is added to the waiting list of heart transplant patients.

What will be evaluated in the evaluation procedure?

A very experienced team of doctors evaluates and gives the final signal for heart transplantation.They test and reconsider the reports for all the previously mentioned criteria. They may even re-conduct all the tests.
Apart from this, they give special attention to the person’s height and weight. It is so because these two factors can affect the person during the waiting period. The person should be capable of following the procedure by physical, mental, and financial means.
They likewise check if the person has any other illness that would affect the surgery or post-surgery results. If some issue is there, they try to solve the problem or reduce its effects through medicines. In such cases, the doctors observe the patients every day for a couple of weeks. They do it to make sure the medicines that they have given are working.

What does the patient do if they are recommended a heart transplant surgery?

  • They should take advice and consultation from doctors and only then agree to the cardiac transplant.
  • Inquire their health insurance agent and apply for medical insurance.
  • Arrange for money; if you do not have medical insurance, make sure you arrange a little more than asked for the surgery. At times, certain charges are not mentioned by the hospitals beforehand.
  • Do not overdo anything during the waiting period. Avoid heavy workload, physical work during this period.
  • Try to follow a proper nutritious, balanced diet plan. Your body will need everything for you to be healthy during the surgery.
  • Avoid eating too much spicy food or oily food as it will increase your blood pressure. And it may be very risky at this time.
  • Prepare your mind for the future. Make your mind stronger, prepare your body. Compel your mind in a way that you can endure all kinds of pain.
  • Collect, organize and pack all the necessary things that you need beforehand. This way, you will avoid the last-minute hustle, which would otherwise increase your blood pressure.

What is the survival rate after heart transplant surgery?

Unfortunately, heart transplant cases are increasing day by day. But fortunately, the survival rates have also increased during the last couple of years. The current survival rate after cardiac transplant surgery is eighty-eight percent. It is the rate within the first year of the operation. Otherwise, the survival rate after five years of the surgery is seventy-five percent.

So that was all about the heart transplant surgery and its candidature. We understand that the thought of you or your near ones being a candidate for a heart transplant might make you anxious. But if you follow the procedure as mentioned, you might as well avoid the last-minute chaos!

Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors