Heart transplants are the third most popular type of transplant, with patients waiting anywhere from 3 months to up to a year to receive donor hearts. In a country where cardiovascular diseases are becoming a silent pandemic, heart transplant surgery procedures have been a welcome intervention. Around 911 heart transplants were conducted in India in the last three years. Read on to learn more about heart transplant surgery, including costs, risks, benefits, and operation success rate:
Who Needs Heart Transplant Surgery?
Patients referred for a heart transplant usually have end-stage heart failure. This could be due to coronary artery diseases, hereditary conditions, viral infections in the heart, or damaged heart muscles or valves. Some of the conditions that could necessitate a heart transplant include:
- Congenital heart defect
- Coronary artery diseases
- Heart attack
- Heart valve disease
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Ventricular arrhythmia
- Chronic lung disease
Sometimes, patients with an unhealthy lifestyle due to alcoholism or drug abuse may suffer from heart failure, thereby requiring heart transplant surgery.
Who Cannot Undergo Heart Transplant Surgery?
Patients who are too old for such an intensive procedure are advised against a transplant as it would affect their recovery. If you have an active infection, the doctor may rule out heart transplant surgery to prevent further complications. Also, if someone from your family has cancer, you may not be a good candidate for a transplant. Most importantly, if you are suffering from a health issue that could potentially affect your life, even after a heart transplant, the doctor may not recommend a heart transplant surgery.
While over 50,000 patients require a heart transplant, only 0.2 per cent are fortunate enough to receive a suitable donor. When you are fortunate enough to receive a donor, it is important that you respect the gift of life and make drastic lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy. This includes refraining from drugs, smoking, and alcohol.
What Happens During a Heart Transplant Surgery?
Every heart transplant surgery begins with an initial psychological and diagnostic evaluation wherein patients must run through a series of blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound procedures, CT scans, and even dental examinations. In addition, women must have a pap smear, mammogram, and gynaecological evaluation to ensure they’re in good condition. Patients are also vaccinated to prevent infections that could affect the transplanted heart.
When a donor match is available, the doctor will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have. The doctor will advise against drinking or eating anything from the time the donor’s heart becomes available.
During the transplant, the doctor will start with an IV to inject IV fluids, adding catheters into the neck and wrist to monitor your heart status and blood pressure and take blood samples. You will be under anaesthesia, but an anaesthesiologist will watch your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.
The surgeon will make an incision down the centre of the chest from just below Adam’s apple to just above the navel. The breastbone is cut in half, separating the two halves and spreading them to reach the heart. The surgeon then puts tubes into the chest to pump blood through the body using a heart-lung machine as the heart is stopped and replaced.
The surgeon then sews the donor’s heart into place and connects the blood vessels carefully, avoiding any leaks. When the new heart is connected, the blood circulating through the heart-lung machine is allowed back into the heart, and the machines are removed. The healthcare team will monitor the heart to ensure there are no leaks. The sternum is then rejoined and sewn together, and the incision is closed. Blood and other fluids are drained from around the heart, allowing the heart to heal.
What Are the Risks Associated with Heart Transplant Surgery?
Needless to say, heart transplant surgery is a significant operation and comes with plenty of complications. For one, you will be given strong immunosuppressants to prevent the body from recognising the heart as a foreign object and rejecting it. Sometimes, the donated heart may not function properly, or the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrow. With the immunosuppressants making you vulnerable to infections, you must be very careful and maintain utmost hygiene.
Other complications resulting from the surgery include kidney problems and weight gain. If the transplanted heart does not work well, there are chances that the patient may succumb.
What Is a Heart Transplant Operation Success Rate?
The average patient survival rate after a heart transplant surgery in India is around 70% after five years of surgery. With proper care and regular monitoring, patients can live up to 15 years after a heart transplant.
Heart Transplant Surgery Cost in Nagercoil
Heart transplant surgery costs depend on the location of the hospital and the reputation of the hospital undertaking the surgery. It costs around INR 30- 25 lakhs depending on the patient’s health and post-transplant procedures performed. In a city like Nagercoil, a heart transplant surgery could cost anywhere around INR 20-25 lakhs.
If you are looking for a heart hospital in Nagercoil to help you understand the procedure, including the risks and complications associated with the surgery. We will explore alternative options that could help improve your heart condition. For instance, ventricular assist devices can be implanted in the chest as a temporary treatment for patients who cannot undergo a heart transplant surgery.