A heart transplant is a procedure in which a surgeon  removes the diseased heart from a person and replace it with a healthy one from an organ donor. It is important to know that the heart will only be removed from the donor when two or more healthcare providers must declare the donor brain-dead.

Why might I need a heart transplant?

Your doctor can recommend a heart transplant if your heart is failing and other treatments are not effective with your condition. End-stage heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscle is failing severely in pumping blood through the body. This is not mention the fact that at this stage, other treatments are no longer working.

What are the causes of heart failure?

Some causes can increase or lead to heart failure include heart attack and viral infection of the heart muscle. Some heart diseases can cause this condition such as high blood pressure, heart valve disease, heart defects present at birth, and irregular heartbeats. Apart from heart diseases, other health conditions may also lead to end-stage of heart failure including high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension), alcoholism or drug abuse, chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and low red blood cell count (anemia).

What are the risks of a heart transplant?

Like any surgery, complications can happen. Potential risks of a heart transplant can be cited as infection, bleeding during or after the surgery, blood clots that can cause heart attack, stroke, or lung problems. Some patients can also suffer from breathing problems, kidney failure, and coronary allograft vasculopathy (CAV) or even death.

The most dangerous risk is that your body’s immune system may reject the new heart. When you get a new heart, your immune system can see new heart as a foreign threat and attacks it. To help this organ survive in a new body, you will be prescribed medicines. The medicines will make the immune system reduce its action and accept the transplant. Unfortunately, these drugs have side effects too. Several side effects include current or repeated infection that does not get better with treatment, poor blood circulation, metastatic cancer. Moreover, some patients can experience severe health problems that would make you unable to tolerate the surgery, and serious health problems other than heart disease that would not get better after transplant.

There also have other risks depending on specific health condition. Therefore, it is important to discuss any concerns with your doctor before the surgery.

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