Heart transplantation is much more than just an operation. Heart transplant patients require expert, coordinated care before, during and for the rest of their lives after transplant. Heart care experts at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin have been performing heart transplants for more than 25 years. Some of our patients have survived for as many as 20 years after their heart transplant, and counting.
Experienced, Compassionate Team
Our multidisciplinary team includes cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, pathologists, transplant coordinators, nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, cardiac rehabilitation specialists, dietitians, social workers and psychologists. With a broad range of resources, our team possesses expertise in every aspect of a heart transplant patient’s care.
We were even the first in the state to use a small, highly portable heart and lung machine to support a patient’s blood and oxygen circulation outside of the body for several hours. The state-of- the-art equipment provides much more flexibility in patient care, especially when transporting to our hospital for a heart or lung transplant. It is so portable that patients may walk around while on heart and lung support, allowing an earlier start to rehabilitation.
As an academic medical center, we have the clinical expertise and highly trained specialists to care for even the sickest patients. In fact, we have successfully treated advanced heart failure patients who have been refused at other centers because of the complexity of their medical condition.
Facts About Heart Transplants
There are roughly 250,000 to 300,000 people diagnosed with advanced heart failure each year, making them potential candidates for heart transplantation. Only an estimated 2,200 heart transplants are performed each year because there are not enough suitable donor hearts. Donor hearts are allocated based on blood type, body size, time on the waiting list, how sick the patient is, and the region where the heart was donated.
With the improvement in ventricular assist devices (VAD), surgically implanted mechanical pumps that help support the heart, more patients can survive longer while they wait for a heart transplant. A VAD can also improve the health and quality of life for some patients who would not be eligible for a transplant because of other significant health concerns.
Transplant Clinic: Comprehensive Evaluation and Quality Care
Not every patient with advanced heart failure will need a heart transplant, and we carefully evaluate each patient to ensure that every possible therapy has been considered. A heart transplant is a treatment of last resort, pursued only when all other treatment options have been exhausted. Patients are carefully screened through our dedicated Heart Transplant Clinic to ensure they are healthy enough for the transplant procedure.
The Heart Transplant Clinic provides a central place for pre-transplant evaluation and post-transplant care. A multidisciplinary team of experts is available to give transplant patients the best care for the many needs they may face. We understand that the overall quality of care before, during and after a patient’s transplant surgery is key to a successful transplant.
Critical Follow-up Care
Heart transplant patients need follow-up care for the rest of their lives. Patients may also need pacemakers or other heart and vascular care in the months and years following their heart transplants. At the Heart and Vascular Center, we have experts in cardiac and vascular surgery, cardiology and interventional cardiology, vascular and interventional radiology, electrophysiology and more — all here in one place.
Post-transplant coordinators in our Heart Transplant Clinic work with patients to coordinate every aspect of their follow-up care. Having a dedicated, experienced staff and a central location gives patients a familiar place where their unique needs are well-understood.
For more information about heart transplantation, see our FAQ.
The Heart and Lung Transplant Support Group is open to any patient or family member.