Before the Heart Transplant
Heart Transplant: Evaluation
Our transplant team is with you every step of the way, beginning with your initial evaluation. The goal of the evaluation is to determine if transplant is the best treatment option for you. Our transplant team includes physicians from many different fields of heart care. Working together, we can decide on a treatment plan that will restore your health, energy and well-being. Meet our heart transplant team
Here's what to expect before your transplant:
- Referral: The first step is a referral to our program from your primary physician or specialist. You can also make an appointment to be evaluated. Call our Cardiothoracic Transplant Office at 410-328-2864.
- Evaluation: You will meet the members of your transplant team, each of whom will play a different role in your care. Our robust team is crucial to the success of the transplant. We will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, including diagnostic tests.
- Decision: Together, we will determine if a heart transplant is your best option. We will discuss the risks and benefits with you. If we decide on a transplant, we will place you on the heart transplant waiting list.
- VAD: We may need to place you on a ventricular assist device (VAD) to help your heart function as you wait for a donor heart to become available. Learn more about our ventricular assist devices (VAD) program.
Heart Transplant Waiting List
The national heart transplant waiting list is organized through the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Waiting time for a new heart varies by blood type, recipient size and weight, and by "status," which is a measure of how severe your symptoms are. This ensures that the sickest patients receive hearts first.
The average waiting time in Maryland is currently about 18 months for patients who are able to wait at home for their new heart. The wait is somewhat shorter if you require any medical interventions such as medication or hospitalization.
Heart Transplant Waiting Period
While you are waiting, we continue to monitor your health. During the waiting period, here's what you can expect:
- Clinic visits to assist with any medical issues that may arise
- Right heart catheterization and other tests every three to four months, to help us identify if you are developing problems or complications.
- If you have congestive heart failure, we may need to implant a defibrillator and/or prescribe blood thinners.
While you wait, remember to:
- Let us know promptly if there is any change in medications or in your medical condition. When in doubt, call your physician.
- Be available 24/7 because if we locate a donor heart, we need to be able to find you quickly. Keep a cell phone with you and turned on at all times.
To speak with a heart transplant specialist, please call 410-328-2864.