A full spectrum of care is available around the clock to support patients during every phase of heart transplant. At Barnes-Jewish & Washington University Heart & Vascular Center, transplant candidates and their families receive the one-on-one attention necessary to help them prepare physically, emotionally and financially for the major issues involved in transplantation.
The evaluation process
The Evaluation Process
Each patient considering heart transplant will have a comprehensive evaluation by all members of our heart failure and transplant team. The transplant evaluation team includes a transplant cardiologist, transplant surgeon, nurse coordinator, dietitian, social worker and financial coordinator.
The evaluation process includes several tests, which are done in one convenient location at the Center for Advanced Medicine on the campus of Barnes-Jewish Hospital. While we will try to coordinate tests whenever possible, the tests may require more than one visit to Barnes-Jewish Hospital. These tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Pulmonary function tests
- Cardiopulmonary stress test (VO2)
- Ultrasound studies of the carotid arteries in the neck and leg arteries
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy
- Mammogram and Pap test or prostate exam
- Dental examination
Based on a thorough evaluation, the transplant team will determine if you are a candidate for a heart transplant.
From the moment you begin the transplant process, you are assigned a heart transplant nurse coordinator who is available to you 24 hours a day in emergency situations. Your nurse coordinator will work closely with you and will be very familiar with your health status throughout the transplant process.
Once accepted as a heart transplant candidate, you will be placed on a transplant waiting list through the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). This is a nationwide computer list of all people in the country who are awaiting transplant. UNOS assists with the matching, transporting and sharing of organs throughout the U.S. This national list prioritizes organ allocation on the basis of the severity of illness, blood type and geographic location. Once you are listed, you are re-evaluated every six months. If your condition improves, you may be removed from the list.
Waiting times vary for many reasons. Currently, there are more than 3,000 people in the United States waiting for a heart. The shortage of organ donors causes most patients to wait for a transplant. The length of time a patient spends on a waiting list depends on many factors including:
- blood type
- tissue type
- height and weight of transplant candidate
- medical urgency
- time on the waiting list
One of our goals through our transplant program is to keep patients home while they are waiting for transplant through specialized treatments, when possible. This makes the waiting time less disruptive to the patient's life.
We understand the wait for a transplant can be a frustrating and sometimes discouraging time. Support groups can help by connecting you with others who are experiencing similar circumstances. Our social workers and financial counselors can also help you through any social or economic issues you're facing as you wait for transplant.
The Heart & Vascular Center offers many convenient lodging options for our patients, whether before or after transplant. Both on-campus and off-campus accommodations are available. Some off-campus hotels offer special rates for Barnes-Jewish Hospital patients. In addition, some lodging expenses related to the transplant are covered by insurance. Call your insurance company to find out more or talk to one of our experienced financial counselors.
For off-campus lodging assistance and to receive extra special rates, call Guest Services at 314-362-5301 or toll-free 800-551-3492, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Heart Transplant Program accepts most insurance plans. However, insurance companies periodically change their coverage. Please verify your insurance coverage with your provider. Once you have started the evaluation process, one of our financial counselors who specialize in transplant coverage will be able to assist you with insurance issues. It is important to notify us if your insurance changes.
For more information or for a referral to the heart transplant program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call