WHAT IS HEART TRANSPLANTATION? WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR HEART TRANSPLANTATION?
Patients whose heart is unable to meet the needs of the body, power to pump has exhausted, for whom other cardiac surgeries or cardiologic procedures are impossible to perform, who receive very intensive medical support treatment, and who have months, weeks, or even days remained to live are eligible for heart transplantation. However, these kinds of patients and their relatives should be prone and adaptive to this treatment type and suitable to train.
IS EVERY PATIENT WHO NEEDS ELIGIBLE FOR HEART TRANSPLANTATION?
The most important factor limiting this is the lack of cadaver donor. At least 600-800 heart transplants are required per year in our country. Our country has still not reached the number of 100 heart transplantations per year.
HOW DOES THE HEART TRANSPLANT PROCESS WORK? BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER OPERATION
These types of patients are patients who frequently refer to a physician in recent times due to heart problems and even are often hospitalized. Or these patients may have had a previous cardiac operation and one or more cardiologic procedures. They may have been sick recently. Such patients, that is, those patients who have been treated for heart failure, are examined in terms of heart transplantation and mechanical heart support systems. These examinations are very detailed. Your doctor will tell you both the results of the tests requested and the final council decision.
IF THE COUNCIL DECIDES HEART TRANSPLANTATION
The council’s decision of heart transplantation for the patient is reported to the National Coordination Center for Heart Transplantation. The waiting process for a heart under predetermined conditions is started. Patients included in the waiting list of the Ministry are included in the patient lists organized according to patients’ conditions as urgent and elective.
THE HEART TRANSPLANTATION PROCESS
It is process of race against time. Two teams are required. The task of the first team is to go to the donor's hospital, make sure the donor is appropriate, remove the donor’s heart in accordance with the procedure, protect its vitality and deliver it to the heart transplant center's operating room in the fastest way possible. Coordination of these stages is carried out by specially trained heart center coordinators. The heart, delivered to the heart transplant center, is impatient to reach to the new body. The time spent in the ultra-modern operating room is complemented by all the opportunities of the open heart surgery. The first heart beats that start in the new body are the greatest gift for the team.
THE INTENSIVE CARE PROCESS
Our post-transplant patient is taken to the ultra-equipped intensive care unit, which we call clean room, with special air conditioning. Our post- transplant patient, who will stay in this room for 3-4 days, opens his/her eyes to his/her new life with his/her new heart. With instructions given in the form of “Do not get excited at all, please follow the orders of the officers” our post-transplant patient is tried to calm down. Difficult time in intensive care unit will be short.
After the intensive care process, inpatient clinic care period will begin for one week or ten days, depending on the patient's condition. Here, both the patient and his/her relatives are being trained by doctors and officials on what will be considered in the following period. Some medicines will be used for life-long. They need to be used without interruption.
The patient is then periodically checked after discharge. During these checks, blood levels of the medicines, ECG for the heart rhythm, contraction force of the heart and the heart valves are checked. These examinations are usually carried out within a program. Patients must follow the control programs provided.
Are there other practices for patients who don’t have the possibility of heart transplantation?
Patients waiting for a heart transplant are increasingly approaching emergency conditions. For patients in this condition, heart machines that we call ‘mechanical heart support systems’ can be life-saving.
ARE THESE MACHINES APPROPRIATE FOR EACH PATIENT?These machines also have conditions to be applied. These machines can sometimes be a ‘bridge to healing’, sometimes a ‘bridge to heart transplantation’, a ‘bridge to the doctor's decision’, and sometimes a ‘bridge to survive’ even for a while. They are not appropriate for each patient.