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Post-Transplant Care

After the procedure is complete, the heart transplant team monitors the patient's progress and manages all care during their hospital stay and throughout the recovery process. The first year after a heart transplant is especially crucial for combating rejection episodes, requiring everyone on the team – and the patient— to remain vigilant for any setbacks.

Frequently Asked Questions About Post-Operative Care

How long will I be in the hospital?
What are common signs of rejection?
How is rejection treated?
How will my life change after transplant?

Q: How long will I be in the hospital?

A: The length of the hospital stay depends on your progress, which your transplant team will monitor closely. Typically, patients are in the hospital for approximately two weeks following surgery.

Q: What are common signs of rejection?

A: Common signs of organ rejection include:
• Shortness of breath
• Fever
• Swelling of ankles and feet
• Weakness
• Fatigue
• Water retention/lack of urination

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your care team to evaluate your condition and decide what, if any, treatment is necessary.

Q: How is rejection treated?

A: Rejection occurs when the immune system recognizes the new organ as a foreign presence inside the body. The body's natural instinct is to neutralize, or attack, this object. Rejection is most common in the first six months after surgery.

In order to address this problem, patients take immunosuppressant medications to shut down the immune system's responses to the new heart. Because taking immunosuppressants can leave the body vulnerable to infection, patients are also be given antibiotics to counteract this threat, Adhering to the medication regimen is crucial for the success of your transplant.

Aside from medication, you will also have regular check-ups with your transplant team. You must maintain proper hygiene habits, including dental and dermatological hygiene, to prevent bacteria from interfering with your transplant success.

Q: How will my life change after transplant?

A: While the immediate few months after transplantation are an adjustment period, many transplant patients live full lives after surgery. Sustaining a healthy lifestyle is a permanent commitment. In order to promote long-term recovery, patients should maintain a healthy weight, participate in physical activity and remove/limit the use of harmful substances, such as tobacco, alcohol and caffeine. Taking these measures will reduce stress on your new heart and encourage optimal functionality.


Video

Music Heals the Heart

Amateur musician and heart failure patient, Moshe Einav, played the piano in the hospital lobby everyday, even up to an hour before his heart transplant surgery. Three days later, he was back at the keys.

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