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Patient's Guide to Heart Transplant Surgery

Diet and Nutrition


Orange juiceDepending on the time factor when you are admitted for your transplant, your nutritional status will be evaluated by a dietician. All efforts will be made to help you maintain good nutrition prior to surgery by making specific diet changes to meet your individual needs. Your dietician will answer any of your questions, and make suggestions to you about the diet.

Once the tube in your mouth and throat is removed after transplant, your doctor will order a diet for you. Most likely, your first few meals will be clear liquids.

Clear liquids include:

  • Apple, cranberry, and grape juices
  • Jello
  • Ices
  • Ginger ale

When you can tolerate more, your diet will be advanced to a full liquid diet.

Full liquids include:

  • A large variety of juices
  • Hot cereal
  • Strained soup
  • Egg
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Milk products like pudding and milkshakes

When you can eat these foods without difficulty, your diet will be advanced to solid foods. The exact diet chosen will depend on your specific needs and will include recommendations by your dietician.

After surgery, your appetite may be slow in returning. It should improve with time. Remember, however, that during your recovery, your body needs enough calories and protein to heal. Thus, eating is important. Some helpful tips to remember as you begin eating again:

If you feel nauseated or have other side effects from your medications, try to relieve your symptoms with clear or cold items like ginger ale and fruit ices and/or dry foods like plain bread or crackers.

  • You may feel more comfortable eating smaller frequent meals.
  • You may wish to circle extra foods on your menu to save for between snacks such as milkshakes and juices.
  • If you feel you just cannot eat enough, discuss this with the dietician. She may recommend a nutritional supplement, but try "real" food first.

NOTE: if you are placed on any diet restrictions, the dietician must authorize the use of any outside foods brought into the hospital by visitors.



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