Heart transplant surgery is the removal of a failing heart and pre-existing hardware (such as an implantable cardio defibrillator or pacemakers) and its replacement by a donor heart.

A heart transplant is a surgical procedure used to treat the most serious cases of heart disease. This is a treatment option for patients who are in the end stages of heart failure, for whom medication, lifestyle changes, and less invasive procedures haven’t succeeded. Those waiting for a heart transplant must fit very specific criteria to be considered a candidate for the procedure.

The Procedure

Heart Transplant Surgery

Heart Transplant Surgery

Heart transplant surgery lasts for approximately four hours. During that time, you’ll be placed on a heart-lung machine to keep blood circulating throughout your body. The surgeon will remove your heart, leaving the pulmonary vein openings and the back wall of the ?left atrium intact, ready to receive the new heart.

Once the donor heart is stitched into place and begins beating, you’ll be removed from the heart-lung machine. In most cases, your new heart will begin to beat as soon as blood flow is restored to it. But, sometimes an electric shock is required to prompt a heartbeat.

The next stop after surgery is the intensive care unit (ICU). You’ll be monitored constantly, given pain medication, and outfitted with drainage tubes to remove excess fluid from your chest cavity.

What are the criterias for a Donor Heart?

The Donor Heart to be selected requires that the Donor meet the legal requirement for Brain Death and that the correct consent forms are signed.

  • Should be younger than 65 years old
  • Should not have a history of heart disease or trauma to the chest
  • Should not be exposed to hepatitis or HIV
  • The donor heart should not be without blood circulation for more than 4 hours

Indications and Guidelines for a Heart Transplant

Now let us see the outline that indicate to opt for this procedure. These are inclusive of the physical conditions and age as well. Most of the states and medical centers will have their own set of indications and guidelines, but this is a generalized information.
The most important or we can say generalized indication is a poor heart or terminal heart failure, with deteriorating symptoms and heart conditions, those which have a 12 or less months to live.

  • The age of the patient should be less than 65 years and the patient must be willing to cope with the surgical procedure and should be willing to follow the post operative procedure.
  • Some other indications like diseases and heart conditions are listed below.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy and Ischemic cardiomyopathy.
  • Congenital heart disease, that has no prospects of a non surgical recovery, and failure of medical treatments.
    Ejection fraction is equal or less than 20%.
  • A failure of any previous heart transplant operation.
  • Failure of conventional therapy for intractable angina or malignant cardiac arrythmias.

However, even if the patient fits in the criteria, there are certain conditions that can reduce the chances of eligibility for heart transplant. They are: Medical conditions that which reduce or shorten the success of a heart transplant, a serious peripheral artery disease, cancer or history of cancer, diseases other than that of the heart that will shorten the life, even after transplantation.


Recovery from a heart transplant can be a long process, spanning up to six month for many people. After the first day or two after the procedure, you’ll most likely be moved from the ICU, but you’ll remain in the hospital as you continue to heal. Hospital stays range from one to three weeks, based on your individual rate of recovery.

You’ll be monitored for infection and your medication management will begin. Anti-rejection medications are crucial to ensure that your body doesn’t reject your donor organ. You may be referred to a cardiac rehabilitation unit or center to help you adjust to your new life as a transplant patient.


The heart transplant cost depends on the locality and the hospital where the surgery is performed. The cost is inclusive of donor organ cost, hospital stay, doctor’s fees, medications etc. The average cost of a heart transplant surgery may range from $75,0000 – $79,0000 (an approximate value).