Heart Transplant team
You will meet your transplant team during the evaluation process, although probably not all at once. You are part of the transplant team for life, even if the health care members change. That team consists of:
- transplant surgeon
- determines if previous surgeries, injuries or physical conditions prevent you from receiving a heart transplant. He is qualified to perform a heart transplant surgery
- transplant cardiologist
- checks your test results, adjusts your meds, and monitors your health
- transplant coordinator
- a registered nurse, he will coordinate all events leading up to your surgery. He will also organize your post-transplant rehab and oversee teaching of lifestyle modification (diet, exercise restrictions and requirements, etc) and meds compliance. He will schedule your testing. He will organize your meetings with the transplant team members. He will be sure referrals are done correctly and will help schedule your outpatient visits after the surgery
- will plan your diet for the rest of your life. <g> You will need to maintain a low-fat, very low-sodium, low-cholesterol diet. Before transplant, fluid restrictions will probably also apply. The dietician will help you learn to control your blood sugar, which must be carefully controlled since prednisone will raise your glucose level after transplant. Weight control is now a part of your life forever and the dietician can help you learn to live with it
- social worker
- will help you with financial matters, including pre-authorization, insurance verification and admission, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He will also help you and your family find community resources, services, and extra counseling, etc,..., should it be needed, as well as helping you find home care if you need it
- psychologist or psychiatrist
- will determine whether your personality lends itself to the strict regimen post-transplant life requires. Meetings with your family will also be required, since it is believed that without the support of those close to you, heart transplant is not wise
- after transplant, you must not run out of meds when none are quickly available, so your pharmacist is an important team member. Drug reactions and interactions can be very serious very quickly, so your pharmacist must be on the ball. Ask questions now, while you have time to absorb the information
- infectious disease physician
- he will decide what antibiotics to give you before surgery and will work with you to prevent infections both before and after transplant
Whether or not you make the list is in the hands of the full transplant team at a weekly meeting of the Patient Selection Committee (or Medical Review Board). Your referring doctor (PCP) will get a full report of their recommendations for your therapy, whether that is for transplant, or medical management (drugs), a medical device, or whatever.
The Selection Committee has members from all the medical "disciplines" such as nephrology (kidney expertise), cardiology (heart expertise), pulmonary (lung expertise), surgery, infectious disease, psychiatry, anesthesiology, gastroenterology (stomach/intestinal/bowel expertise), social work, nutrition, transplant coordinators, hospital administration, and financial counseling.
This committee reviews the findings from your tests to see if you meet the medical requirements for a heart transplant. Then they decide if you can be expected to stick to a long-term, highly-disciplined medical plan after transplant. If so, you are "accepted" and listed for the next heart to which you can be matched.
If you are turned down, a written explanation is sent to you and the referring physician. Other therapy is then discussed with you and your doctor.
Material taken from manuals given to potential transplant recipients at transplant centers in the USA, and from heart transplant recipients - Updated April 26, 2002
All information on this site is opinion only. All concepts, explanations, trials, and studies have been re-written in plain English and may contain errors. I am not a doctor. Use the reference information at the end of each article to search MedLine for more complete and accurate information. All original copyrights apply. No information on this page should be used by any person to affect their medical, legal, educational, social, or psychological treatment in any way. I am not a doctor. This web site and all its pages, graphics, and content copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Jon C.