A heart transplant is an operation to replace a damaged or failing heart with a healthy heart from a donor who has recently died.
It may be recommended when a person's life is at risk because their heart no longer works effectively.
A heart transplant may be considered if you have severe heart failure and medical treatments aren't helping.
Conditions that may eventually require a heart transplant include:
If your doctor thinks you might benefit from a heart transplant, you'll need to have an in-depth assessment to check whether you're healthy enough to have one before being placed on awaiting list.
A cut is made in the middle of the chest. Your own heart is then removed, and the donor heart is connected to the main arteries and veins. The new heart should then begin beating normally.
Most people are able to start returning to many of their normal activities within a few months.
Your transplant team can give you advice about how long you may need to avoid certain activities during your recovery.
You'll need to have regular check-ups with your transplant team after the transplant.
You'll also need to take medications called immunosuppressants for the rest of your life. Without these medicines, your body may recognise your new heart as foreign and attack it (known as rejection).
A heart transplant is a complex and risky procedure.
Possible complications include:
Many of these problems are treatable, although sometimes another heart transplant may need to be carried out if possible.
Most people can eventually return to their normal activities after a heart transplant and experience a significant improvement in their symptoms for many years.
However, it'sa major operation and some of the complications can be life threatening.
Some people have survived for more than 25 years after a heart transplant.
A heart transplant is an operation to replace a damaged or failing heart with a healthy heart from a donor who has recently died. It may be recommended when a person's life is at risk because their heart no longer works effectively.
As donor hearts are scarce, you'll need to be assessed carefully to determine whether a heart transplant is suitable, if your doctor thinks you could benefit from one. The final decision about whether you are suitable for a heart transplant is a joint decision made by the transplant team.
Because of the lack of available hearts, it's rarely possible to have a heart transplant as soon as it's needed, so you'll usually be placed on a waiting list. It may be several months, or possibly years, before a donor heart of the right size and blood groups becomes available.
A heart transplant is carried out with you unconscious under general anaesthetic , and normally takes between four and six hours. You'll be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, which will take over the functions of the heart and lungs while the transplant is being carried out.
Read about what you can expect after a heart transplant and when you can return to your normal activities.
A heart transplant is a major operation, and there is a risk of several complications. Some complications can occur soon after the procedure, while others may develop months or even years later.
In 1998, Andy Cook was told he had just two days to live. But when a donor heart became available, a transplant saved his life. Bit by bit, Andy regained his strength, but his journey back to health had some setbacks.