Before a Heart Transplant
The Evaluation Process
The evaluation process begins with a referral by your doctor. You can initiate the process by contacting our referral coordinator at 800.543.8814. The coordinator will collect basic medical information, and our financial counselor will contact you to provide advice on basic financial questions and begin contact with relevant insurers.
Patients go through an evaluation that includes tests such as:
- Cardiac catheterization
- Heart biopsy
- Exercise and lung function tests
- CT or MRI scans
Patients then meet individually with members of the transplant team, including the transplant coordinator, financial coordinator, social worker and nutritionist.
Questions? Find more information:
We then recommend a prescribed program of care, including findings on the suitability of transplant and next steps in the process.
Test results may show that a transplant is not the best option for you. If so, follow-up visits may be required, allowing our team to monitor heart symptoms.
Waiting for An Organ
Organ Waiting Lists
All appropriate candidates are presented to the Selection Committee, which considers placement on the national waiting list. This takes place after all testing and evaluation is done.
The wait list for transplant organs is managed nationwide by a federally regulated, non-profit organization called the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS uses a complex set of factors to ensure distribution of organs is handled fairly.
All patients are also listed regionally with Lifenet, an organ donation and tissue banking organization that assists in obtaining and transporting organs.
While You Wait for a New HeartJoin our monthly Heart and Lung Transplant Support Group.
When: The fourth Thursday of every month, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Meetings are open to patients, family members and friends. For more information, contact us at 800.257.0757.
The Organ Distribution Process
Organs are distributed according to a complex set of criteria. Organs go first to those patients with the greatest need. For heart transplant candidates, these are patients on continuous intravenous heart medications or artificial heart assist devices (VADs). If no patient fits these criteria, the organ is then offered to patients through a process that considers body size and weight, blood type and other medical factors.
The waiting time for a heart in our region is one to three years. Some patients become so sick that they can no longer tolerate the stress of surgery and may be removed from the list. This is obviously a difficult decision for the patient and transplant team. Nationally (and here at UVA), about 20-25 percent of patients who are listed will die while waiting for the transplant.
Find out what to expect from heart transplant surgery.