The UT Southwestern Heart Transplant Program provides patients with full access to UT Southwestern’s multidisciplinary medical resources and highly personalized care. Cardiothoracic surgeons, advanced heart failure cardiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, transplant coordinators, social workers, rehabilitation therapists, nutritionists, and pharmacists work together to deliver comprehensive treatment.
The goal of heart transplantation is to both prolong and improve the quality of your life. After a thorough evaluation, if we believe that a heart transplant is the best treatment option for you – and you wish to pursue this option – your name is added to the national United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list.
Your wait status is dictated by how sick you are and the availability of suitable donor hearts. The wait time for heart transplantation depends on a number of variables including your urgency, blood type, size, and immunologic compatibility with potential donors. Wait times can range from days to months.
We’ll contact you when a suitable donor heart is ready, and you must arrive within three hours at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, where preparatory tests and procedures are done. Most patients are in the operating room within a few hours.
You’ll be under general anesthesia and connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, which takes over the work of your heart and lungs, while your surgical team performs the transplant. Your damaged heart will be removed when the healthy donor heart arrives in the operating room.
Once the donor heart has been transplanted, you’ll be disconnected from the heart-lung machine, allowing blood to flow through the transplanted heart and throughout your body.
Heart transplant surgery typically takes four to six hours. Patients can often be discharged within two weeks of surgery.
Our transplant team provides patients with extended medical management, care, and support following transplant. Post-transplant patients complete a program of supervised cardiac rehabilitation. They also receive education on their new medical regimens and assistance with the adjustments that post-transplant life requires.
Patients who receive transplanted hearts must take medications for the rest of their lives, exercise regularly, eat a heart-healthy diet, forego smoking and alcohol, and see their transplant team regularly.
Most patients are able to return to a normal, active life within three to six months after their heart transplant surgery.