Patient's Guide to Heart Transplant Surgery
You will be seen as an outpatient or possibly be admitted to USC University Hospital for an evaluation because your doctor feels that transplantation might be beneficial to you. The purpose of our evaluation is to determine whether transplantation would be your best option.
During your evaluation, you will meet many people, have many blood and skin tests, x-rays, and other diagnostic procedures. These tests will help us to determine if transplantation would help you. Once in a while, we discover something that would make transplantation too dangerous for you. This could be an infection somewhere in your body, high blood pressure in your lungs, or severe thickening of your arteries.
People you will meet during your evaluation will include the Transplant Coordinator, Cardiologist/Pulmonologist, Social Worker, and Financial Counselor. In addition to these team members, you may also meet with the neurologist, psychiatrist, physical therapist and/or other specialist. The transplant coordinator will coordinate your care and will be available to answer any questions you may have. You will meet with physicians to help determine your medical suitability for transplantation. The information gathered about you from all of the tests and from each team member will help us decide if transplantation is the best treatment for you.
The evaluation period is designed not only for the team to learn about you, but also for you and your family to meet us, learn about transplantation and what our program has to offer you and your family. It will also give you the opportunity to learn about life with a transplanted organ(s) and most important, to decide if you wish to pursue transplantation at USC University Hospital. If you are accepted for transplantation, please remember that the final decision to have a transplant is yours, and yours alone. The commitment required to do well following transplantation is intense and the regimen must be adhered to.
During your evaluation one or more of the transplant team members who will take your complete history will see you. You will be given a physical examination that will include laboratory and diagnostic testing in order to determine your eligibility for transplantation. These tests may be performed at USC University Hospital or at a local hospital in conjunction with your primary physician.
Social Service Evaluation
The social worker will meet with you and your family to identify support systems, your feelings about your illness and the possibility of transplantation. The social worker will also be able to assist you with your relocation needs, while in the Los Angeles area. There are many resources available, both within and outside the hospital that the social worker will be able to share with you.
The purpose of the group is to give you the chance to meet other transplant candidates and recipients, to address social issues that surround transplantation and to increase your knowledge about transplantation. Issues often discussed are: coping with waiting for transplantation, fear of the operation itself and insurance issues. Sometimes transplant team members will come to the group to talk about the transplant, medications, and anything else of interest to the group. There is usually a question and answer session afterwards. Patients and family members who come to the group find it to be supportive and informative. There is no fee for attending the group meetings.
You may need to go see the team neurologist who will examine you and discuss any past or present neurological problems that might have an effect on you after transplantation. Neurological tests will be done as indicated by your condition and as deemed medically necessary by the neurologist.
This evaluation provides us with an understanding of you and how you cope in your family life and under stress. The psychiatrist will assist you and your family in dealing with the stresses of a chronic disease. If you are chosen for a transplant, the psychiatrist will help you with the stresses of the waiting period and transplant process.
Physical Therapy Evaluation
Because exercise is vital to your well being after a transplant, exercise will become an important part of your life after transplantation. The physical therapist will meet with you to evaluate your current physical condition and limitations, given the severity of your disease. He/She will also be interested in the types of physical activity, if any, you enjoyed and took part in before you had health problems. Your joint motion, muscle strength, and condition will be evaluated to make sure there is no physical problems that will affect your participation in an exercise program after transplant surgery. Also, the physical therapist will teach you energy saving methods to help you conserve energy while waiting for a donor.
Some patients may have an examination, consultation, and/or x-rays of their teeth during the evaluation period. Patients may be cleared through their private dentist. This is done to rule out any sources of hidden or potential infection in your mouth since infections of the mouth can be very troublesome if they occur after transplantation. The dentist will make recommendations for any treatment that you may need. You may have any necessary work performed by our private dentist.
> Next: Preoperative Preparation and Teaching