Once you are placed on the transplant wait list, you may be called at any time to receive a heart that has become available. Timing of the transplant is critical at this point, which is why patients are usually asked to be able to reach the hospital within two and a half hours of being called in for a potential transplant.
During surgery, the surgical team opens the patient's chest. The patient is connected to artificial heart and lung equipment that keeps the blood circulating and the lungs working during the operation. Then the patient's heart is removed and the donor heart is put in place. Surgeons connect the new heart with the patient's blood vessels. As blood begins to flow and the heart begins to beat, the heart-lung machine is removed.
Surgery for a heart transplant generally takes about four to six hours. You can expect to stay in the hospital about 10-12 days if you have an uncomplicated heart transplant.
For more information on the heart transplant program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call