Heart Transplant Transplant Process

Once patients are identified as a potential heart transplant candidates, they have an evaluation performed at the UW Hospital and Clinics. They meet with a heart failure/transplant cardiologist to discuss their medical history. If the cardiologist determines that the patient is a candidate for transplant, more tests and labs are ordered.
The patient also meets with one of the transplant coordinators, who can answer their questions and provide information.
Waiting Period
If the patient is a transplant candidate and wishes to proceed, s/he is placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. UNOS is a nonprofit organization that matches organs to patients based on blood type, body weight and physical condition. This waiting period can last for days or years, based on a patient's individual circumstance.
While waiting, the patient meets with the heart failure/transplant cardiologist at least every three months. These visits provide the opportunity to monitor the patient's physical condition and provide support and education.
The call for a patient's transplant can come at any time. The transplant team works with the patient to help her/him get to the hospital as quickly as possible. Surgery typically takes four to six hours and the patient will be in the hospital for one to two weeks.
While recovering in the hospital, the patient learns about new medications, self-care and follow-up. Once discharged, the patient is required to stay in the Madison area for about one to two weeks until the transplant team feels comfortable with her/him returning home.
Follow-up Care
Transplantation is a lifelong commitment to follow-up care at the UW Hospital. During the first year, the patient has clinic visits and lab tests every one to six weeks. After the first year, clinic and laboratory visits decrease significantly, but post-transplant care will remain a lifetime commitment. The transplant team provides lifelong assessment and support with the hope that, after transplant, a patient can return to a normal, healthy life.