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Patient's Guide to Heart Transplant Surgery

What You Can Expect When You Wake Up

Patient and nurse in the Intensive Care UnitYou will wake up in the intensive care unit (ICU) after surgery. Around you, you will have lots of machines, tubes and people. You will hear lots of beeps, bells, and talking. You will have a tube in your mouth and throat that helps you to breathe but keeps you from being able to talk. You cannot eat or drink anything while the tube is in your mouth. You will have intravenous lines in the veins of your arms and your neck that will give you fluid and medications. You will feel a tube (one or two) coming from your chest which is draining fluid that can collect there. A large dressing will be covering the wound on your chest from the surgery. You will notice wires on your chest which connect you to a monitor so that your nurse can see how your heart is working. You will have a catheter in your bladder to continuously empty it.

All of these tubes and wires make it difficult to move, but they are necessary right after surgery. We try to remove them as soon as possible, however, in order to cut down on the chance of infection. As a result, a lot of tubes will be removed within the first day or two days after surgery depending on your condition. You may also find that you are unable to move because of medications given to you during the surgery. Do not worry. The effects of the medications will wear off. In terms of pain, most transplant patients say that it is not as bad as they thought it would be.



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