Heart transplant surgery replaces a diseased or damaged heart with a healthy heart from a human donor. At Wake Forest Baptist, our Advanced Cardiac Care and Transplant Program helps heart failure patients who have exhausted all other reasonable treatment options.

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.

Patients with the most severe cases of heart failure may require a heart transplant for many reasons:

  • One or both ventricles have stopped working
  • Congenital heart disease or heart defects have caused irreversible damage
  • Heart valve disease is preventing adequate blood flow
  • Experience a new onset of heart failure
  • Do not respond well to medication therapy
  • Have 2 or more hospitalizations for heart failure in 1 year
  • Have a recent deterioration for cardiac function

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.

What to Expect During Heart Transplant Surgery

At Wake Forest Baptist, a specialized team of physicians, surgeons, pharmacists and nurses manage every aspect of your procedure.

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.

Your surgeon will make a large incision in your chest, separating your breastbone so that there is enough room to remove the diseased heart and replace it with the donor heart.

You'll spend several days in the hospital after heart transplant surgery, including a short stay in our cardiac intensive care unit.

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.

Your care will continue after surgery with follow up visits with your doctors as well as cardiac rehabilitation.

Heart Transplant Team at Wake Forest Baptist

At Wake Forest Baptist’s 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.

Our surgeons are leading specialists in their field and have been pivotal in advancing many aspects of heart care, including heart transplant.