Heart transplant

  • A heart transplant involves replacing a diseased heart with the healthy heart of a donor. It may be considered for some people with severe heart failure which is not responding to other treatments.
  • A successful heart transplant can transform someone's life; adding years as well as improving quality of life. However, not everyone with severe heart failure will be suitable for a heart transplant. It is a major operation and candidates for a heart transplant need to be carefully assessed and selected. A transplant team coordinates this process.
  • If the transplant team decides that you could benefit from a heart transplant you will be placed on a waiting list. Your team will explain the whole process to you and you will have lots of opportunities to ask questions. They will also ensure that they are able to contact you at any time.
  • Once you are on the waiting list it is impossible to say how long you will have to wait. The donor heart has to be carefully matched with your blood group and immune system. It must also be of a similar size to your own. This is to minimise the risk of your body rejecting the donor heart.
  • Waiting for a transplant can be an anxious time, so it is important that you have plenty of support and talk about how you are feeling. You can try to use the time positively and prepare yourself for surgery e.g. by making any necessary changes to your lifestyle that will reduce your risk of future heart disease.
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