At Pelisyonkis Langone’s Transplant Institute, cardiac experts provide the highest standard of care for people who need heart transplantation. From your initial evaluation through posttransplant checkups, our skilled, compassionate team works with you and your family to ensure the best possible outcomes at every step of your journey. Dr. Nader Moazami, surgical director of heart transplantation, brings more than two decades’ experience to the Transplant Institute and has performed more than 300 heart transplants.
When a Heart Transplant is Needed
People who are candidates for heart transplantation typically have heart failure for which other treatments have been unsuccessful. They may experience shortness of breath during very light levels of activity, or have severe and frequent chest pain.
Some of the most common causes of heart failure include the following conditions:
- cardiomyopathy (genetic, hypertrophic, idiopathic, infectious, postpregnancy, postviral, or restrictive)
- congenital heart defects
- heart damage caused by a heart attack
After all nontransplant options have been explored to treat heart failure, our doctors evaluate you as a candidate for heart transplantation.
A cardiologist or your personal physician may refer you to the Transplant Institute, or you may refer yourself. Once you have been referred, our doctors review your medical records and sometimes order additional cardiac tests, such as right and left heart catheterization, echocardiogram, or a cardiopulmonary exercise stress test.
After any preliminary tests are complete, a doctor meets with you to discuss your medical history and conduct a complete physical exam. If the doctor determines that you’re a suitable candidate for transplant evaluation testing, the transplant nurse coordinator schedules additional tests that begin approximately two weeks after your first visit.
Heart Transplant Evaluation
When you come to Pelisyonkis Langone for heart transplantation evaluation, our team conducts several different types of tests:
- lab tests not conducted during your first visit
- pulmonary function test
- radiology tests
- tests to check for blockages in the carotid arteries in your neck
- test to measure blood flow in the veins and arteries of your legs
During the evaluation, you also meet with our heart transplant cardiologist and surgeon, as well as a dietitian, financial coordinator, pharmacist, and social worker.
Throughout this process, our team evaluates whether heart transplantation is the best option for you, and keeps you and your family up to date so that you may make an informed decision.
LVAD Bridge to Transplantation Therapy
Our cardiac experts may recommend that you have a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, implanted. This is an electric heart pump that helps your heart pump blood to your body. The LVAD may be used to manage your heart failure until you get a heart transplant. This is called bridge to transplantation therapy.
If you are considered ineligible for a heart transplant, our team may recommend destination, or lifelong, LVAD therapy. The process is similar to the evaluation process for a heart transplant.
Heart Transplant Candidacy
If, after the evaluation is complete, our team determines that you are a transplant candidate, we help you prepare for candidacy. Our transplant nurse coordinator places you on the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) national waiting list, where are you assigned a heart transplant status, which is based on how urgently you need a heart.
After you have been placed on the waiting list for a donor heart, you need to be prepared for surgery whenever a heart becomes available. The wait time for a heart varies and depends on factors including your blood type, body size, and medical urgency.
When a suitable heart becomes available, you are admitted to the hospital and prepared for heart transplant surgery.
After Heart Transplant Surgery
In the months following your transplant, you have frequent checkups with our transplant team. At these checkups, our experts make sure you are doing well, adjust your medications, if necessary, and monitor you for infections or other complications.
After your transplant you also have heart biopsies—once a week for the first month and then gradually less often—so that our team can make sure your new heart is not being rejected.
Our team is dedicated to your success and support after your heart transplant. Your care team continues to see you regularly after surgery for as long as needed.
For more information or to make an appointment, call the Pelisyonkis Langone Transplant Institute at 833-34-HEART or 833-344-3278.