A heart transplant is the process of removing a damaged, or failing heart organ from an individual, and replacing it with a healthier heart. According to the World Health Organization, over 5000 heart transplants take place each year around the globe.
Heart donor is the term used to refer to any individual whose heart is to be removed and given to someone else. Donors are usually people who have every organ in their bodies working properly with the exception of their brains. Such people may have been involved in an accident or some other unfortunate event that renders them brain dead. A heart transplant beneficiary is the individual that receives the working heart that is removed from the donor.
Who can get a heart transplant?
Just about anyone that has a damaged heart can be eligible to receive a new one. However, heart donors are limited in number, making it necessary for health organizations to put in place rules and regulations that ensure fairness in distribution of hearts. These regulations level the playing field meaning that anyone can benefit regardless of age, race, financial status or gender.
To determine if a patient is eligible for transplant a few professionals may be involved in the process of examination and compiling of reports. The professionals include dietitians, psychiatrists, social workers, cardiovascular surgeons, transplant coordinators and cardiologists.
To qualify for a transplant a patient must have all other organs of the body working in an optimal manner. This reduces the chances of transplanting a heart only for the patient to succumb to other conditions. The patient must also be proven to have severe end-stage heart failure.
Cases that may require heart transplant
One of the main reasons for a transplant is damage due to accidents. When an individual is involved in a road accident and only the heart is severely damaged he or she may apply for a transplant. Other conditions that may necessitate transplant include viral infections of the heart, hereditary conditions that afflict the heart, coronary heart disease and damaged heart valves or muscles due to alcohol, pregnancy or medication.
Conditions that may compromise heart transplant success
According to the United States Institute of Health, over 85 percent of patients that receive heart transplants live for more than two years after the procedure. Some of the conditions that may reduce the chances of success include:
1. Active infections experienced in any part of the body.
2. Advanced age may make it difficult for a patient to tolerate a new organ. However, there is no age limit barrier for application.
3. Failure to adhere to the lifelong care plans after transplant may lead to eventual complications.
4. Kidney, liver or lung diseases that can be cured.
5. Poor blood circulation throughout the body.
6. Consumption of less than ideal foods that may end up working against the body. This may include junk or foods with too much unhealthy fats.
The heart transplant procedure:
1st step – this stage involves harvesting of the organ from the donor and keeping it on ice for transportation to its designated location. Transport must ideally take place within 6 hours.
2nd step – this stage involves surgeons carefully removing the damaged organ from the beneficiary. When done on a new beneficiary the surgery takes a shorter time as compared to operation on a patient that had already received a transplant in the past.
3rd step – this stage is relatively easy for experienced surgeons. It involves the implantation of the new heart to the beneficiary.
Although the first heart transplant was done in 1967, the technology has advanced greatly over the past 50 years. Modern medicine is truly amazing, and as one of the nation’s leading providers of holter monitors we are proud to contribute cutting edge cardiac monitoring technology!
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