A heart transplant is a procedure in which a surgeon removes a diseased heart and replaces it with a donor heart.
The doctor will make a cut (incision) in the skin over your breastbone (sternum). Then he or she will cut through your sternum to reach your heart. During the surgery, a mechanical pump circulates blood through the body while the doctor removes the diseased heart and replaces it with a healthy heart from someone who has died.
The doctor will use wire to put your sternum back together and will use stitches or staples to close the incisions in the skin over your sternum. The wire will stay in your chest. The incisions will leave scars that may become less noticeable with time.
You will spend about 1 to 2 weeks in the hospital after surgery. You may have to stay longer depending on your health and if you have problems from surgery.
You probably will feel better each day, but it may take several months to get your energy back.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Having surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect and how to safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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