In order to determine if you are a candidate for a heart transplant, you will have a thorough evaluation. It is important to remember that after transplant patients have to take medications that suppress the immune system to prevent rejection of the donor organ. Much of the evaluation is focused on identifying and treating conditions that may be affected by the immunosuppressive medications.

During your evaluation, the following will take place:

  • You will be taught about transplantation by a transplant coordinator. This will provide an overview of the evaluation and transplant process as well as what to expect after the transplant. You must bring a support person with you.
  • You will be seen by a transplant social worker for a one-on-one psychosocial interview. The social worker will explore such things as who will help you after transplant for care and transportation. She will also talk to you about how you might cope with the challenges you may face as a transplant recipient.
  • You will be seen by a transplant cardiologist and surgeon who will perform a physical examination and discuss your medical history with you.  The doctor will discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and risks of transplantation and answer any questions you may have.
  • You will see a dietitian during your visit. The need for this is based on your weight or other nutritional problems you may have.

After completing the physical and reviewing your medical and surgical history, and required testing, the doctors will present your case to the transplant selection committee. The committee consists of cardiologists, surgeons, social workers, nurses, and a nutritionist.  The committee will determine if you are a candidate for transplant.

Patient selection for transplantation is a complex process. In order to be considered a heart transplant, you must have adequate function of the other organs of the body, good support, and no conditions that may complicate the surgery or increase the side effects of the drugs that suppress the immune system.