What You Should Know about Heart Transplant

The human heart can be transplanted like other body organs. Heart transplantation is even available as a medical option to save a patient’s life. When the disease has entered the final stage and the heart can no longer function, a transplant can be a solution. However, this transplant process is more complicated than other organs because the heart is a vital organ that is very important for human survival.

Getting to Know Heart Transplantation

A heart transplant is an operation to remove a patient’s diseased heart and replace it with a healthy heart. The replacement heart comes from a donor who has died, usually due to an accident, head injury, stroke or brain hemorrhage.

The donor must be a person who has suffered an irreversible brain injury and has been confirmed medically dead. The identity of the donor and the circumstances of his death are kept confidential. Transplant recipients and their families are not given information about this.

All potential donors will undergo a thorough examination regarding their health, including heart disease, drug or alcohol abuse, and cancer. The hospital will also carry out tests to check for the presence or absence of infectious diseases. If there are no problems, then the donor’s blood type and body size are matched with the potential recipient. Neither gender nor race is considered in this procedure.

Worldwide, nearly 3,500 heart transplant procedures are performed worldwide. More than half of them take place in the United States. The average life span of patients after receiving a transplant is 15 years.

Who Needs a Heart Transplant

Doctors at heart hospitals will consider transplantation if the heart is no longer able to work properly and the patient is at risk of death. Heart disease patients need a transplant, among other things, when they experience:

  • Severe heart enlargement
  • Congestive heart failure that repeatedly requires hospitalization
  • Unstable angina (often feeling chest pain even when resting)
  • Ventricular arrhythmia that can no longer be treated or controlled with a defibrillator
  • Congenital heart disease in adults
  • Other heart diseases that can no longer be treated with surgery or other methods.

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Purpose of Heart Transplantation

Heart transplantation is not an attempt to cure heart disease. But transplantation is an effort to save the patient’s life and improve his quality of life. With a transplant, the patient’s life can be longer.

Patients can live their lives better with a healthier heart. As a result, patients will be more enthusiastic and enthusiastic in life, including in daily activities.

When is it Necessary?

To be able to make medical recommendations in the form of a heart transplant, the doctor will first examine the condition of the patient’s heart. Recommendations can be issued if the heart is really in a serious condition and can no longer be treated with other medical treatment. This means that the heart has failed to work as it should, so the patient’s life is threatened.

Failure to work here means that the heart muscle is no longer able to carry out its task of pumping blood throughout the body. In fact, every organ in the body needs blood that is rich in oxygen and nutrients to function. The doctor will evaluate the patient’s heart to determine the best course of action that offers the patient the greatest chance of survival in this condition. Because, it could be that the patient doesn’t need this action yet.

Risks and Side Effects

Like any medical procedure, there are risks and side effects to this procedure. The two most common complications are infection and rejection. Infection is the main cause of mortality and morbidity in patients after transplantation due to the immunosuppressant drugs that must be taken. Post-transplantation, patients are more susceptible to infections, including the Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and bacteria, especially staphylococcus.

Fungal, protozoal, and herpes simplex infections may also affect transplant recipients. Doctors can control the incidence of infection by monitoring patients to detect early signs of infection and applying appropriate isolation techniques.

Rejection here refers to the condition when the body’s immune system rejects the existence of the transplanted heart. This is because the immune system detects the heart as a foreign object and thinks it is a bacteria or virus so it is attacked. However, rejection can be overcome with medication that must be consumed regularly.

Read More : First Heart Transplant And Know The Risks

Preparation Before Heart Transplant

Not all patients with severe heart conditions can receive this procedure. Among other things, patients must be ensured that they are healthy and able to undergo hours of surgery for the transplant procedure. For this reason, the heart hospital will deploy a team to evaluate the patient first. This team consists of:

  • Transplant surgeon
  • Transplant specialist heart doctor
  • Nurse
  • Psychiatrist or psychologist

Patients will undergo psychological and social evaluations, blood tests, and diagnostic tests. The transplant procedure requires really thorough preparation from various aspects because there are many influencing factors.

Heart Transplant Procedure

A heart transplant usually takes about 4-6 hours. However, overall, this procedure can take up to 8 hours because it requires patient preparation and monitoring before and after surgery.

Before surgery, the patient is given anesthesia so that he is unconscious during the transplant. The surgeon then makes an incision in the patient’s chest and prepares a heart-lung machine which functions to replace the role of the heart and lungs during the procedure. The patient’s heart is then removed and the doctor inserts the heart from the donor, then connects it to the blood vessels by means of stitches. After the heart is installed and connected to the blood vessels, the doctor closes the incision wound.

All procedures are carried out in a heart hospital with qualified doctors and supporting medical equipment. It requires special skills to carry out this action because it is closely related to the patient’s life.

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