Heart transplant involves the removal of a diseased heart and getting replaced by a new one from a deceased donor. The replacement is performed on patients on whom all kinds of heart treatments have failed completely. In such cases heart replacement is the only option left. The main problem with heart transplants is the availability of donors. A careful selection process is followed to pick the donor and recipient. The rate of survival of the heart transplant patients is around 88% in the first year, 75% for the next five years and 56% over a period of 10 years.
Patients eligible for a heart transplant
The selection process is critical because only serious ill patients who have tried all other alternative measure but failed are considered. But they have to be healthy enough to receive and recuperate after the transplant. The lack of donors makes the selection process crucial.
A bench of specialists decides the eligibility of the recipients. Some of these important people are cardiologist specialist in India, transplant coordinator, dietician, social worker and psychiatrist. While considering the eligibility of the recipient the panel takes into account factors like the recipient’s age.
- People below the age of 70 years are considered who have a poor blood circulation in the body.
- But if the patient has liver, lung and kidney diseases then it would be problematic.
- The presence of any active infection in the body along with diabetes that causes damage of important organs can be a major hindrance in the person’s selection as a heart transplant recipient.
Before a heart transplant
A heart transplant is a lengthy process in which the doctors keep track of the number of patients requiring a new heart as well as the number of donors. There is usually a long waiting period that runs into months. The waiting status changes when patients fall sick with infection, kidney failure or stroke. Patients who have been waiting longer get the opportunity first. Patients have to be in constant contact with the transplant centers and top heart transplant doctors in India to get notified.
What happens during the transplant?
Prior to the transplant the patient is administered anesthetics. During the procedure the surgeons open up the rib cage and hook up a machine that bypasses the heart and lungs. The machine continues to pump blood into the patient’s body through the lungs while the surgeons continue to replace the heart. The fresh heart is put in place of the deceased heart and connected with the pulmonary arteries and aorta. The entire procedure takes about four hours after which the patient is kept in the intensive care unit.
After the transplant the patient has to spend at least two weeks in the hospital to recuperate after which the transplant team keeps a close watch. A heart biopsy is conducted to check if the new heart is being rejected by the body in any way.