Who is Eligible for a Heart Transplant?

To decide whether a heart failure patient is a good candidate for heart transplantation, physicians and other medical staff must first ask two critical questions:

1. How sick is the patient from a heart standpoint?

Doctors want to know if the patient will ultimately benefit from the surgery, or if other methods can be used to prolong his/her life. They want to know if transplantation will be a positive choice for the patient long term.

2. What are the patient’s medical conditions?

Medical staff must decide if any of the patient’s previous conditions will affect the outcome of a transplant. Do these conditions put the patient at high risk for complications? Doctors want to be confident that the patient can tolerate the surgery.

The Ideal Transplant Candidate

  • Age < 70 years
  • A responsible citizen who will be compliant with medications, diet and lifestyle
  • Should not be a substance abuser, smoker or someone abusing alcohol
  • Someone with adequate family/caregiver support
  • Should not be obese (body mass index less than 30)
  • No mental illness
  • Must be in remission for at least five years, if a cancer patient
  • No osteoporosis
  • Not in end-stage diabetes
  • Should not have liver disease or end-stage kidney disease
  • Should not have an active infection

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