Treatment: Heart Transplant

A heart transplant is sometimes the only treatment option if the heart is severely damaged by a disorder such as dilated cardiomyopathy. However, there may be a long wait before a suitable donor heart is found. During the operation, the heart’s normal function is taken over by a heart–lung machine (see Surgery using a heart–lung machine). The operation takes between 3 and 5 hours. You will need lifelong drug treatment to prevent the body from rejecting the donor heart. About 4 in 5 people survive for 5 years or more after having a heart transplant.

The procedure

Most of the diseased heart is removed, but the back walls of the upper chambers (atria) are left in place. The lower chambers (ventricles) of the donor heart are then attached to the remaining areas of the recipient’s heart.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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