Heart Transplant Process

At Henry Ford, we understand that heart transplant recipients will have concerns. We want you to feel comfortable and confident about our approach so you can focus on getting better.

Our heart transplant coordinators will guide you through each step of your personalized treatment plan. You can depend on these nurses, as well as other members of your heart transplant team, for skilled hands-on care throughout your time at Henry Ford.

Waiting for a heart transplant

Wait time for a donor heart can range from a matter of days to years. Your wait time depends on several factors, including:

  • How badly your heart is damaged
  • Your blood type
  • Your body size

Once you receive approval, your transplant coordinator places you on the national waitlist. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) manages this list and matches organ donors and recipients throughout the Midwest and across the country.

Your transplant coordinator stays in regular contact and keeps you updated on your status. As soon as a donor heart is available, you will receive a call from your coordinator.

Learn more about Henry Ford’s heart transplant outcomes.

Getting a heart transplant

You can expect certain steps during the heart transplant process:

  • Following surgery, you recover in our specialized transplant recovery unit. This unit is staffed by a medical team that has advanced training in cardiac and transplant care.
  • The length of your hospital stay depends on the complexity of your surgery and your health.
  • While at Henry Ford, you meet with one of our specialized transplant pharmacists and begin taking transplant medications. You need to take immunosuppressants throughout your life. These medications stop your body from rejecting the donor heart.
  • You begin cardiac rehabilitation while recovering in the hospital and continue rehab on an outpatient basis. Through carefully monitored physical activity, you and your new heart can get stronger.
  • After your hospital discharge, you need blood tests and follow-up exams. You may choose to get these checkups at one of our convenient heart transplant clinic locations.

Resources for transplant patients and caregivers

Our caring staff at guest services can help you, your family members and your caregivers with travel arrangements, lodging and other support. Learn more about these resources.

Take the next step

Speak with a Transplant Institute specialist.