Heart Transplant (cont.)
Michael C. Fishbein, MD
Dr. Fishbein received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Illinois. He completed a residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at Harbor General Hospital/UCLA Medical Center. He is board certified in anatomic and clinical pathology.
In this Article
- Introduction to heart transplant
- What is heart transplant?
- Who needs a heart transplant?
- What are the results of a heart transplant?
- What are the complications of a heart transplant?
- How does a heart transplant patient know if he or she is rejecting the donor organ or developing an infection?
- How is rejection of the organ diagnosed and monitored?
- Why aren't more heart transplants done?
- What is the future of heart transplant?
- Find a local Cardiothoracic Surgeon in your town
Why aren't more heart transplants done?
Cost is one reason why more heart transplants aren't done. The cost is always at least a few hundred thousand dollars. Not all insurers will pay for heart transplant. The longer the recipient lives, the more expensive the transplant. Of course, if the heart lasts longer, the benefit is also greater to the patient and to society. It's also not easy to qualify for a heart transplant. One has to have a very bad heart but an otherwise healthy body. However, the major limiting factor is the availability of donor hearts. For many reasons, individuals and families refuse to donate organs that could be life-saving to others. Sometimes, even when an organ is available, there is no good match. Other times, there is no way to get the heart to a suitable recipient in time for the organ to still be viable.
What is the future of heart transplant?
There are several ways to help patients with end-stage heart disease. One is to get more donors for heart transplant. This will require teaching people the benefits of transplantation in hope of changing society's attitudes. Better methods of preserving organs and preventing and treating rejection are constantly being developed. In the end, however, there will never be enough donor hearts. Indeed, artificial hearts already exist but have a limited life-span. Patients with artificial hearts are at high risk of developing infection and blood clots related to the device. Better devices are being developed all the time. What about the use of animal organs, also called xenotransplantation? These organs are too "foreign" and thus the problems with rejection are currently insurmountable.
Last Editorial Review: 7/31/2007
Find out what women really need.