Giving someone a gift of life is the noblest thing to do. Imagine getting a second chance at life. Anyone would jump and grab it.
Heart transplant’ is a surgical process in which a heart is removed from a donor and placed inside the heart of a recipient who is either at the end-stage heart failure or suffering from a severe cardiac disease. The donor heart usually comes from a brain dead or a deceased person.
At Fortis, we are at the forefront in comforting this entire process of transplantation and making it a smooth journey for both you and your family. We have a group of highly skilled heart surgeons who are adept at handling simple to complex cardiac diseases. They are supported by state-of-the-art infrastructure and diagnostic facilities that equip them to provide the most comfortable care possible.
Our team of heart surgeons consists of transplant surgeons, cardiologists, intensivists/critical care specialists, pulmonologists, immunologists, pathologists, trained ICU & ward nurses. They work in collaboration with other specialties and departments to ensure the highest level of personalized care.
A person undergoing a heart transplant has to be ill enough to need a new heart but at the same time healthy enough to receive one. Due to short supply of donor’s hearts, a careful selection process is usually in place to assure a fair distribution of donor’s hearts. An inadequate functioning of the heart is not the only criteria for undergoing a heart transplant. All the other organs in the body of the recipient must also be in good health and shape. The transplant cannot be performed in patients with cancer, someone with an active infection, a serious kidney, liver or lung disease, a smoker or an alcohol addict.
Each case is considered individually and checked on the merit of recovery, ability to do lifestyle modifications and compliance with medications.
The process begins when a suitable donor heart is found whose parameters match with the recipient’s requirements. The waiting times to find a donor heart can sometimes be very long. Once the heart is removed from the donor’s body, it is preserved on ice and is suitable to be implanted within 4 hours of removal.
A general anesthesia is given to the recipient as it involves an open heart surgery. The recipient is put on a ventilator and medicines are given through an IV line injected into the arm. The surgeon opens the chest and connects the recipient’s heart’s arteries and veins to a heart-lung bypass machine and removes the damaged heart. This process can be simple or complex depending on whether the recipient has undergone any previous heart surgeries in the past.
The next step is the removal of the recipient’s heart’s arteries and veins from the machine and connecting them to donor’s heart and placing it. The operation is completed when the surgeon closes the chest by taking stitches.
The recipient is usually back home after about a week of undergoing a heart transplant. Sometimes the stay is extended to two weeks or more to monitor and stabilize various health parameters. The recipient is then engaged in a cardiac rehabilitation program which is medically –supervised. Here the patient learns about maintaining a healthy heart health. It involves educating, counseling and training patients on exercises, choosing right nutrition, managing stress, avoiding risk factors for maintaining a healthy heart.
Post heart transplantation, the recipient is constantly monitored for organ rejection. Our body’s immune system rejects any foreign objects be it bacteria, viruses or organs. A standard test called a heart biopsy is done to check whether the body is rejecting the new heart. This test is conducted multiple times over few months post-surgery. This is done along with administration of immuno-suppressants – a powerful medicine that suppresses the body’s immune system and avoids rejection. Symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, weight gain and reduced amounts of urine are closely monitored and checked as these are the first signs of rejection. Your doctor might change the type or dose of immuno-suppressant if the existing medications doesn’t seem to work or cause more side-effects.
The patient will require to follow-up regularly for medical check-ups with their transplant cardiologists. The doctor will check the levels of medications needed, side-effects, any active infection and may order heart-related diagnostic tests to evaluate and monitor heart rhythm and function.
Going through the process of waiting for a donor, undergoing surgery and recovering can be long-drawn, stressful and overwhelming. All these feelings are normal. Talking to your doctors and our supporting staff can be relaxing and will help you keep anxiety at bay. Having your family, friends or seeking professional counselling can go a long way in coping with this trying time.
With 56 hospitals across the nation and over 10,000 beds, Fortis Healthcare Limited is a leading integrated healthcare delivery service provider in India. For over 26 years, Fortis Hospitals have been committed to the cause of getting people back to their lives faster and stronger.