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A heart transplant is surgery to take out a diseased heart and replace it with a donor heart.
The doctor will make a cut in the skin over your breastbone (sternum). The cut is called an incision. Then the doctor will cut through your sternum to reach your heart. The doctor will connect you to a heart-lung bypass machine. It adds oxygen to your blood and moves the blood through your body. This machine will allow the doctor to stop your heartbeat. The doctor replaces the diseased heart with a healthy heart.
The doctor may use wire to put your sternum back together. Stitches or staples are used to close the incisions in the skin over your sternum. The wire will stay in your chest. The incisions will leave scars. But the scars may fade with time.
You may spend about 1 to 2 weeks in the hospital after surgery. You may have to stay longer. This depends on your health and if you have problems from surgery.
You will likely start a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program in the hospital. You will continue with this rehab program after you go home to help you recover and prevent problems with your heart.
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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Adaptation Date: 2/18/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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