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Heart Transplant

Heart transplant surgery is the removal of a failing heart and any pre-existing hardware (such as an implantable cardio defibrillator or pacemakers) and its replacement with a donor heart.

Why are heart transplants done?

Heart transplant is used to treat severe, end-stage heart failure. This heart failure may be the result of damage to the heart from:

  • Coronary artery disease, such as a heart attack
  • Severe, untreated hypertension (hypertensive heart disease)
  • Heart valve problems
  • Infections, such as viruses
  • Inherited heart disease
  • Congenital heart disease (a malformation of the heart a person is born with)
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Unknown reasons (idiopathic)
Heart transplantation is excellent therapy for patients with end-stage heart disease; however, a transplant is not suitable for everyone. 

Every potential heart transplant patient must be carefully assessed. The assessment phase starts when your specialist refers you to the heart transplant team. 

In order to be eligible for a heart transplant, you must be a BC resident with a Personal Care Card Number and referred by a heart specialist or family physician to the Heart Transplant Team at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.

A comprehensive profile of your personal, medical and family history will be compiled through the assessment process. All of this is important to help determine whether or not a heart transplant is suitable for you. You’ll be interviewed by various team members to determine whether transplantation is the best treatment option. You’ll also receive information that will help you decide whether you want to go ahead with the transplant.

The routine assessment includes consultation with the members of the transplant team comprised of a cardiologist, transplant surgeon, clinical coordinator, social worker, dietitian and psychologist. If required, appointments will also be arranged with specialists from other disciplines.
Following a heart transplant, you can expect to spend 10 days to two weeks at St. Paul’s Hospital. Following surgery, you will be closely monitored for infection and rejection of the new heart, and you will also enter the Healthy Heart rehabilitation and recovery program. 

You will also be required to take various medications following your transplant as a preventative measure against commonly occurring infections and rejection. These medications are covered by BC Transplant with your valid BC Care Card Number.

For more information on managing your care, please visit our Medications page.


More information?

If you have questions about the Heart Transplant Program, please contact St. Paul’s Hospital.

SOURCE: Heart Transplant ( )
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