The Heart Transplant Evaluation Process

Physician going over chart with patient.A formal evaluation process will determine whether you qualify as a candidate for a heart transplant.

The first step is to meet with a transplant cardiologist for a screening interview. The rest of the process may be conducted during an admission to the hospital or on an outpatient basis. You will also meet with other members of the multidisciplinary cardiac transplantation team during the evaluation process, including the social worker, dietitian, pharmacist, and transplant coordinator.

Potential candidates for transplant are first cleared by their health insurance company for coverage of the evaluation process. The financial coordinator handles most of the communication, but may ask the candidate or the candidate’s family to obtain and/or provide information to other community resources or employee relations/human resources/personnel staff as appropriate.

Physician reviewing x-ray.

Lab tests will be performed to see how your other organs are functioning, and also to check what viruses you have been exposed to in the past. You will need to collect your urine for 24 hours and bring it to the hospital on the day of your blood work or admission for evaluation. Other testing may include:

  • chest x-ray
  • Tuberculosis (TB) test
  • skin testing (PPD)
  • exercise stress test
  • echocardiogram
  • right heart catheterization (RHC)

More testing may be ordered depending on your current condition, the assessment of the cardiologist, and your specific past medical history. All tests and procedures will be explained to you, and you will have ample opportunity to ask questions about the process. Some examples of other diagnostic testing are:

  • colonoscopy
  • Doppler ultrasound studies of the arteries in your legs, neck, and abdomen
  • pulmonary (breathing) function studies (PFTs)
  • left heart catheterization (LHC or coronary angiogram)

The cardiologist may ask that you see other physicians who specialize in treating other conditions that the team might find during the evaluation phase.

Once all the necessary information is gathered, your case will be presented to the Transplant Committee. This committee meets weekly and consists of the entire multidisciplinary transplant team. The evaluation process helps the team to reach the appropriate decisions regarding your best treatment options.

If you qualify as a candidate for a heart transplant, you will be entered into a national database and placed on a waiting list. Learn more about what to expect when waiting for your heart transplant.

Patient Stories

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