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Heart Transplant Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a candidate for evaluation for heart transplant?
 
Individuals who suffer from severe heart failure of varying causes that do not respond to medicine or surgery are considered for heart transplant. Viable candidates should have no other life-limiting medical problems and the support of family and friends.
 
How are donor organs matched to those waiting for transplant?
 
If we recommend that you would benefit from heart transplantation, and you wish to proceed, you are placed on a waiting list managed by the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS). This non-profit organization matches organs to patients based on blood type, body weight and size, and health.
 
How long do people wait for a heart transplant?
 
The wait time depends upon the severity of your condition and the time it takes to find a heart donor of similar size and weight with a compatible blood type.
 
See how UW Health compares to other organizations for heart transplant wait times
 
What is a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) and what ones are used at UW Hospital and Clinics?
 
An LVAD is a machine designed to help the heart pump blood when it is too sick to pump effectively on its own. UW Hospital and Clinics uses the Heartmate and the Thoratec ventricular assist devices.
 
What is the frequency of follow-up after heart transplant?
 
Heart transplant is a lifelong commitment to regular follow-up at UW Hospital and Clinics. Patients and designated support persons are required to stay in the Madison area for one to two weeks after discharge. Initially, patients will have heart biopsies, lab tests and clinic visits weekly. Appointments will progress to every other week, followed by every four weeks, every six weeks, every three months, and then every three to six months for life.
 
How many medications do heart transplant recipients have to take?
 
Heart transplant recipients take an average of 10 to 15 different medications daily. After the first year, some medications may be discontinued and others decreased. Taking all medications as prescribed is extremely important. The transplant coordinators, pharmacists and staff nurses will educate you and your family on these medications so that you feel comfortable taking them before you go home.
 
How can I be evaluated for transplant at UW Hospital and Clinics?
 
If you think you may need a heart transplant, talk with your local doctor and have him/her contact the University of Wisconsin Heart Failure Program at 608-263-1690 to arrange an appointment with one of our heart failure/transplant cardiologists.