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Heart Transplant

When you have heart failure, your heart has trouble delivering oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. You may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks or even just take a full breath. 

At Wake Forest Baptist Heart and Vascular Center, we offer comprehensive heart transplant programs to help patients with advanced forms of heart failure. Our Advanced Cardiac Care and Transplant Program includes a dedicated a team of highly trained specialists offering expert care for patients with severe forms of heart failure and require a heart transplant. 

Advanced Care for Heart Failure in North Carolina 

The Advanced Cardiac Care and Transplant Program provides specialized care for patients who are not able to find relief from typical heart failure treatments. Our surgeons are leading specialists in their field and have been pivotal in advancing many aspects of heart care, including heart transplant. 

Wake Forest Baptist listed among hospitals that have the best organ transplant outcomes in Becker's Hospital Review.

Heart Transplant Surgery

Your doctor may refer you to our Advanced Cardiac Care and Transplant Program for a heart transplant if you: 

  • Experience a new onset of heart failure 
  • Do not respond well to medication therapy 
  • Have two or more hospitalizations for heart failure in one year 
  • Have a recent deterioration for cardiac function 

Heart transplant surgery replaces a diseased or damaged heart with a healthy heart from a human donor. At Wake Forest, our Advanced Cardiac Care and Transplant Program helps heart failure patients who have exhausted all other reasonable treatment options. Patients with the most severe cases of heart failure may require a heart transplant for many reasons: 

Request an appointment online to find out if heart transplant surgery is right for you

Recognized Leader in Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) 

A ventricular assist device (VAD) is an artificial heart pump that either temporarily or permanently takes over the pumping function of your heart. At Wake Forest, our VAD program has earned advanced specialty certification. We are one of only 131 hospitals in the country and one of four in North Carolina to meet strict national standards for quality and safety, and we have done so for the past three years. 

VADs serve two functions: 

  • Bridge to transplant: If you are waiting for transplant surgery and your heart can no longer do its job, a VAD takes over the work of your heart until you receive a transplant. 
  • Long-term therapy: If you are too weak for surgery or have other medical conditions that prevent you from being able to have a heart transplant, a VAD can provide long-term support. 

We offer some of the best available technology including Impella® and TandemHeart®. 

  • Impella®: A tiny pump our surgeons can insert in five minutes through a catheter. This device provides immediate support and can remain in place for up to seven days. 
  • TandemHeart®: A cannula (flexible tube) that reduces the work of the heart by relieving pressure and providing a steady supply of oxygenated blood to your organs. 

Heart Transplant Surgery Steps

Heart transplant surgery is an aggressive form of treatment and may not be appropriate for everyone. If you have end-stage heart disease, your doctor will perform a series of diagnostic tests to determine whether you are eligible for a transplant. At Wake Forest Baptist Health, a specialized team of physicians, surgeons, pharmacists and nurses manage every aspect of your procedure. 

Here’s how it works: 

  1. You will be asleep during your surgery and connected to ECMO, which will take over the function of your heart and lungs, and pump your blood for you. 
  2. We make a large incision in your chest, separating your breastbone so that there is enough room for the surgeon to remove the diseased heart and replace it with the donor heart. 
  3. You'll spend several days in the hospital after heart transplant surgery, including a short stay in our cardiac intensive care unit. 
  4. Your body may treat your new heart as a foreign object and try to reject it. Following heart transplant surgery, you'll need to take special medication to prevent this from happening. 
  5. Your care will continue after surgery with follow up visits with your doctors as well as rehabilitation. Learn more about cardiac rehabilitation services at Wake Forest.  

Contact Wake Forest Baptist Health 

Request an appointment online. Or, for more information, please call: 

  • 336-716-WAKE or 
  • 888-716-WAKE (toll-free) 


Quick Reference

Heart & Vascular Center
New Patients

Local 336-716-WAKE
Toll-free 888-716-WAKE

Returning Patients

Vascular 336-716-4151
Heart 336-716-6674

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Last Updated: 03-06-2017
Wake Forest Baptist Ranked among Nation’s ‘Best Hospitals’  25 Years in a Row by U.S. News & World ReportComprehensive Cancer Centers National Designation is Renewed2017-2018 Best DoctorsNursing Magnet StatusJoint Commission Report

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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