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Patient's Guide to Heart Transplant Surgery

After Surgery

The decision to receive a transplant is a major one and should not be made without a great deal of thought for several reasons:

  • First, transplantation is a major surgical procedure that involves some degree of risk. Specific information about the risks and major complications associated with the surgery will be discussed with you during your evaluation period.
  • Second, transplantation requires a serious and definite commitment by you and your family to the maintenance of a strict posttransplant regimen. This regimen will need to be followed for the rest of your life. Many patients find that following the strict diet, medication, exercise, and clinic regimen requires changes in their lifestyle. All of the medications prescribed are necessary and must be taken at specific times. Your diet may restrict calories, fluids, salt, fats, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. Also, you will not be able to drink alcohol, as it will affect your immunosuppressant levels. You will need to exercise daily to keep your body strong. You will be expected to visit the clinic as directed for follow-up examinations, medication adjustments and testing.
  • Third, the medications you must take after the transplant have certain side effects that can be unpleasant and can cause other medical problems. Some of the medications that prevent your body from rejecting the new organ can also decrease the ability of your body to fight off infection, can raise your blood pressure, or can cause your bones to become weak due to loss of calcium (osteoporosis). During your evaluation, you will learn more about other possible drug side effects. Please remember that not all patients will have the same side effects.

Because these medications are necessary in order for a transplant recipient to survive, some side effects are unavoidable. The risks associated with the use of these medications can be reduced only by learning about them, taking them as ordered, and by careful monitoring during clinic visits. The transplant team will work closely with you and your family to teach you what you need to know to live successfully with a transplant. Your transplant team's hope is that you will be able to live an active and productive life after you receive a new organ.



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