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Preparing for heart transplant

Approved transplant candidates are placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) list while awaiting transplant. During this time, the transplant team monitors the patient to ensure his or her condition remains stable. Should the patient’s condition begin to decline, other innovative procedures such as intravenous medications and left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation may be recommended until a compatible donor heart is located.

When a donor heart becomes available, the donor-recipient matching system considers several factors in finalizing a match:

  • The medical urgency of the potential recipient’s condition
  • Blood type compatibility (A, B, AB or O)
  • Antibodies developed by the recipient
  • Whether the donor organ is appropriately sized
  • The time a potential recipient has spent on the waiting list

Once a donor heart has been identified, the patient is called to the hospital immediately, where a thorough evaluation is conducted on the donor organ and the patient.