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University Hospitals Transplant Team Improves Success Post-Transplant

Our Heart Transplant Program team continually pursues and adapts protocol to improve recovery after surgery is complete.

Learn More About Heart Transplant at UH

To refer a patient call 216-844-3689.

To learn more about our heart transplant program, call 216-844-2566.

Make a Referral

Post-Transplant Care at UH

Once you are home, it will be important to keep the surgical area clean and dry. Your healthcare provider will give you specific bathing instructions. During a follow-up visit, your stitches or surgical staples will be removed if they weren't removed before you left the hospital.

Don't drive until your doctor tells you it’s acceptable. Other activity restrictions may apply.

Your healthcare provider will give you instructions after the procedure, depending on your individual case. Be sure you understand and follow these instructions.

Follow-Up Appointments

A heart transplant is a life-long process. Patients must continue to see their transplant team, including the surgeons, physicians, transplant coordinator and other team members frequently to make sure their body is not rejecting the heart. While rejection is a normal bodily reaction to a foreign object, it is unacceptable when it comes to an organ transplant.

At the post-transplant visits, the specialized team will:

  • Assess the patient’s vital signs and progress
  • Examine surgical incisions for healing or infection
  • Measure new heart function
  • Discuss potential medication issues
  • Meet with both patient and family to make sure the care plan is working to meet their needs

You should contact the UH Transplant Institute right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever, chills, or both. These may be a sign of infection or rejection.
  • Redness, swelling, bleeding or drainage from the incision site or any of the catheter sites
  • Increase in pain around the incision site
  • Trouble breathing
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Low blood pressure

Anti-Rejection Medications

To allow the transplanted heart to survive in your body, you will need to take medicines for the rest of your life to fight rejection. Each person may react differently to medicines, and side effects can be serious. Our team will tailor medicine plans to meet your needs.

You may get several anti-rejection medicines at first. The doses of these medicines may change often, depending on your response. Because anti-rejection medicines affect the immune system, you will be at higher risk for infections. It's important to keep a balance between preventing rejection and making you very susceptible to infection.

Some of the infections you will be especially susceptible to include oral yeast infection (thrush), herpes and respiratory viruses. You should avoid contact with crowds and anyone who has an infection, especially for the first few months after your surgery.

Regular dental care also is important. Your doctor or dentist may prescribe antibiotics before any dental work to help prevent infections.

To watch for signs of rejection, you will likely get routine right heart biopsies. A biopsy is typically done once a week in the early period after a transplant. Then the frequency gradually changes to monthly or longer intervals. The biopsy procedures may eventually stop.

The right heart biopsy procedure may be done as an outpatient or as an inpatient if you are already in the hospital. The procedure involves a right heart catheterization. A special catheter is threaded through a vein in your neck or groin and into the right atrium of your heart. Tiny tissue samples are taken through the catheter and checked for signs of rejection. If signs of rejection are apparent, your anti-rejection medicine may be adjusted. The biopsy procedure has its own instructions and risks, and these will be discussed with you.