Heart Transplant

New hope. New life. New possibilities.

Since 1986, UNC has performed over 300 heart transplants and our patients truly benefit from our multi-disciplinary approach to care. The heart transplant team is comprised of multiple specialists within the UNC Center for Transplant Care, along with additional cardiothoracic specialists from the UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care. UNC patients may also benefit from participating in clinical trials conducted by our research team, allowing access to promising new therapies that may not yet be available at other hospitals.

Making an Outpatient Referral

To make an appointment or get more information on heart transplant and/or LVAD evaluation please call 984-974-2900. 

Heart Transplant/LVAD Referral Form

Making an Inpatient Referral

To make an inpatient referral, please call the Patient Logistics Center at 855-PLC-4UNC.

You may also contact heart transplant or VAD staff directly using the information below:

Karen Stupp, RN, BSN, Heart Transplant Coordinator
Phone: 984-974-7530
Fax: 984-974-7738

Ashley Downing, BSN, RN
Phone 984-974-7531
Fax 984-974-7738

Jeremy DeGraffenreaidt, Administrative Associate
Phone: 984-974-7528
Fax: 984-974-7738

Transplant/VAD Candidacy

Patients with deteriorating heart function and a poor one-year prognosis may be candidates for heart transplant or Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) implantation. Specialists in the Heart Failure and/or VAD clinic work closely with the referring physician to coordinate care and ensure that the patient remains in optimal condition for transplantation.

At UNC Medical Center, our goal is always to see potential heart transplant or VAD candidates as early as possible in the course of disease. This allows us to build strong relationships with our patients and their families, and lets us explore all options for every individual patient. Optimal timing of transplantation or VAD implantation is important in decreasing recovery time after surgery and improving patient outcomes.

Some of the specific indications for referral to the program include:

  • Advanced nonischemic or ischemic cardiomyopathy with NYHA Class III-IV symptoms
  • Advanced congenital heart disease for which conventional therapy has failed or does not exist
  • Intractable angina
  • Malignant cardiac arrhythmias for which conventional therapy has failed

Patients with the above conditions who are high risk for developing end-stage heart failure and who may benefit from heart transplant or VAD include those with:

  • Frequent admissions
  • Increasing diuretic doses
  • Decreasing or intolerance of evidence-based heart failure medications
  • Increasingly frequent arrhythmias, including those resulting in defibrillator shocks
  • Unintentional weight loss (cardiac cachexia)
  • Hypotension

Potential heart transplant or VAD candidates are evaluated on an inpatient or outpatient basis at UNC hospitals, depending on the specific needs of the patient. Evaluation procedures include:

  • Laboratory studies
  • X-ray and Ultrasound studies
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Right-heart catheterization
  • Other testing as needed
  • Meetings with the transplant team members (medical, nursing, financial, social work, psychologist, dietician)

Patients who are approved for heart transplant are listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the national organ procurement and transplant network.

At UNC Transplant, our team believes that it is always better to consider cardiac transplant or VAD therapy early rather than too late. We work together to ensure the best care and results to patients so they can return to a better quality of life.