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Heart Transplant Process

At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, our team has performed more than 800 heart transplants. This depth of experience gives us the expertise necessary to provide you with the most personalized, comprehensive care possible.

Our care team understands that learning that you or a loved one requires a heart transplant can be overwhelming and frightening. We are here for you before, during and after the transplant process to give you the care and support you need.

Understanding the Heart Transplant Process

The heart transplant process is complex, but our highly skilled transplant team supports you before, during and after your transplant. The heart transplant process typically includes:

  1. Referral: Your doctor will refer you for evaluation because you are experiencing advanced heart failure.
  2. Evaluation: At your appointment, our transplant team will thoroughly evaluate whether a heart transplant will be safe and effective for you. Learn more about our heart transplant options.
  3. Waitlist: If we determine that a heart transplant is the best treatment option, we add you to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waitlist. The waiting time for a suitable donor varies for each individual and will be explained by the transplant cardiologist. They will also describe what to expect throughout the process.
  4. Surgery: Once a suitable donor is identified, our team calls you to the hospital for heart transplant surgery.
  5. Recovery: Most patients stay in the hospital for about 2 weeks following transplant. After the surgery, a team of specialists prepares you for long-term post-transplant care.
  6. Rehabilitation: We refer you to cardiac rehabilitation after surgery to help you return to your normal, daily activities.
  7. Follow-up: After discharge from the hospital, we will continue to see you throughout your life to watch for any signs of your body rejecting the heart. We may adjust anti-rejection medications as needed. We monitor aggravating conditions, such as hypertension, throughout the post-transplant period.

Congenital Heart Disease: Transition Program for Teens

We offer special services for patients who received a heart transplant as a child and now need to transition into adult care.

We have developed our transition process with our social workers and our colleagues at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Here is how the transition works:

  • Advanced preparation: As you enter your later teen years, we collaborate with you and your doctors about transitioning from pediatric care to adult care.
  • Transition at the right time: We work closely with you and your doctors to determine the most appropriate time to transition from pediatrics to adult care. The decision is based on you and your family’s readiness to transition.
  • Personalized transition care: One of our staff members will attend an appointment with you at St. Louis Children’s Hospital to begin building relationships with your new medical team at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center.

Contact Us

For more information about the heart transplant program at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, call 888.993.8511.