Heart Transplant: Our Approach to Treatment
We have the resources and the skills to provide the treatment that offers you the best outcome, helping you return to normal, daily activities quicker. Our specialists have extensive training and experience with both artificial heart devices and heart transplant. We always choose the approach that will be most effective for you.
- High level of expertise: We have been performing heart transplants for more than 30 years, with 30 to 40 transplants performed each year. This gives our specialists the skills and experience needed to provide excellent treatment and care. Meet our heart transplant team.
- Integrated care from medical and nursing staff: We’re here to make your experience as seamless as possible. Our specialists and support staff help you navigate your care every step of the way. Learn more about the heart transplant process.
- Success with mechanical alternatives to heart transplant: We offer the full range of left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) as well as the total artificial heart. Most often, we use these mechanical circulatory support devices as a temporary measure before a transplant. They also allow us to treat patients who are not eligible for transplant. Find out more about artificial heart devices.
Heart Transplant Options
At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, we offer the full spectrum of treatment options for advanced heart failure.
LVADs as a Bridge to Transplant
For many patients, the process of heart failure treatment will include a mechanical assist device to support their heart before a donor’s heart is available. LVADs help the existing heart to do its job while the patient waits for a donor’s heart.
The Transplant Center offers one of the largest LVAD programs in the nation, with about 100 devices provided to patients every year. In fact, nearly 70% of our heart transplant patients have a mechanical assist device to support their heart while they wait for a transplant. Learn more about LVADs.
ECMO Helps Patients Waiting for Transplant
We are one of the only centers in the region that offers ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) therapy. This unique treatment can help a patient survive a heart failure crisis while waiting for a transplant.
- Uses a machine to take over the work of the heart to oxygenate the blood and remove carbon dioxide from the body
- Can circulate a patient’s blood for them for up to 1 to 2 weeks
- Allows patients to recover from a health crisis so that they can receive an LVAD or transplant
Alternatives to Heart Transplant
Our heart team also offers a variety of advanced, effective treatments as alternatives to a heart transplant. We may discuss some of the following options instead of heart transplant, or prior to heart transplant:
- Use of established or new drugs shown to be effective in patients with heart failure
- Myocardial revascularization (heart bypass surgery)
- Left ventricular aneurysmectomy: Repair of an aneurysm (ballooning out of a part of the heart) that occurs in the heart wall
- Heart valve repair/replacement
- Mitral valve repair in dilated cardiomyopathy: Repair of the heart's mitral valve in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease that causes the heart to become enlarged
Heart Failure Research and Clinical Trials
Transplant Center patients have access to leading-edge heart failure research and clinical trials thanks to our affiliation with Washington University School of Medicine.
Available trials may study:
- Medications for acute and chronic heart failure
- The role of exercise in patients with heart failure
- Remote monitoring of patient health status
- Implantable devices, including defibrillators, biventricular pacemakers and artificial heart devices
- Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs)
For more information about the heart transplant program at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, call 888.996.4507.