Getting a Heart Transplant
If heart failure is making you increasingly tired, breathless and frustrated with how you feel, it may be time to undergo an evaluation for a heart transplant. At UNC Medical Center, our heart failure and heart transplant teams work together to determine if a transplant is right for you.
What Causes Heart Failure?
Your risk of heart failure increases with age. These conditions also can cause your heart to weaken:
Heart Transplant Screenings
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) maintains the national heart transplant waitlist. To help determine whether a heart transplant is right for you, you will have several medical tests and consultations with specialists.
Our transplant coordinators and multidisciplinary team guide you through the process to make it as seamless and stress-free as possible. We are here to answer any of your questions and provide personalized care that is right for you and your family.
You may undergo these tests:
- Colonoscopy for people over 50 years of age
- Blood tests to check for diabetes, high cholesterol, hepatitis, HIV and other conditions
- Heart tests, including an echocardiogram, nuclear imaging, chest X-rays and heart catheterization
- Pulmonary (lung function) tests
- Mental health assessment
- Pap test and mammogram for women
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for men
Getting on the Heart Transplant Waiting List
After your assessment with the multidisciplinary team, if you are an appropriate heart transplant candidate, UNOS will add your name to the national waiting list. UNOS matches donors and recipients across the nation.
Your wait time for a donor heart varies depending on the severity of heart damage, your blood type and body size when seeking the right match for you.
Additional Advanced Heart Therapy: LVADs
We offer a range of heart failure therapies, including left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) to help your heart pump blood. The Joint Commission has certified our LVAD program since 2010, reflecting our commitment to providing the highest level of heart failure care.
Depending on your situation, an LVAD can serve as:
- Bridge-to-transplant: The LVAD supports your weakening heart as you wait for a transplant.
- Destination therapy: This more permanent LVAD approach provides long-term heart support if you do not want a transplant or other health problems prevent you from getting one.
Support for You and Your Family
Our dedicated team of heart and LVAD professionals goes above and beyond to meet all of your needs. Other members of your transplant support team can help with insurance and billing, accommodations, mental health counseling and other services.