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Methodist Healthcare

Heart transplant

A heart transplant is a surgical procedure that may be used if you are experiencing severe heart failure. During the procedure, your failing heart is replaced with a healthier heart from an organ donor.

Heart transplant program in San Antonio

Our team has performed more than 500 transplants and implanted over 200 devices since 1986.

The Methodist Heart Institute’s Heart Failure Center provides advanced medical and surgical interventions for patients with hearts that can no longer pump enough to meet the demands of their bodies. With a team of experienced providers and access to the latest technology, you can trust the experts at Methodist Healthcare with your heart.

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Our heart transplant services

We offer advanced heart transplant services and will work with you every step of the way to make sure you have everything you need.

Heart transplant candidacy

The goal of our heart transplant program is to exhaust all medical therapies before resorting to a heart transplant, which is reserved as a final lifesaving option. Transplant services are only considered for patients with severe heart failure who meet heart transplant criteria and have healthy organs otherwise.

If your doctor feels you may be a candidate for heart transplant evaluation, you will have to undergo multiple diagnostic tests and medical evaluations. You will also participate in various consultations with members of our heart transplant interdisciplinary team, including our surgeons, dietitian, social worker, psychiatrist, financial advisor and other consulting physicians as necessary.

Private insurance, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, provides coverage for heart transplants. Our financial coordinators verify transplant benefits from your provider, assist with information and planning, help you understand what your insurance will and will not cover and estimate transplant and medication costs.

If you are selected as an ideal candidate for a heart transplant, your name will be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list for a donor heart. Your place on the list is determined by the severity of your illness and how long you have been waiting. You may move up or down the list as your condition declines or improves.

Heart transplant surgery

Leading up to your heart plant procedure, you will be prepared for surgery while your donor heart is transported to our hospital. The transplant operation typically lasts between four to six hours. During the procedure, you will be placed on a heart-lung bypass machine, which keeps your blood circulating and oxygenated. Your diseased heart will be removed and replaced with the donor heart, which will be connected to your major blood vessels and surrounding tissues.

After surgery, you will be taken to the surgical intensive care unit. Then, you’ll be transferred to a regular room in the hospital’s transplant unit. Most patients spend approximately 10 days in the hospital recovering from heart transplant surgery. While you recover, your transplant program team will provide you with postoperative education, medication and cardiac rehabilitation support services.

Heart transplant recovery

After you are discharged from the hospital, your activity will be limited for six to eight weeks. You will need to keep a daily record of your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and medication routine. This is to ensure that your body is responding well to the transplanted heart and not rejecting it. Rejection can occur if the body perceives the heart as foreign. In these cases, the immune system can attack the transplanted heart.

Your post-transplant medications are designed to suppress the immune system to reduce the risk of rejection. However, this can increase the risk of infection. This is why it’s imperative to avoid large crowds or come in contact with unhealthy individuals following surgery.

Your transplant team will do their best to reduce your chance of having complications and to treat any problems or difficulties right away. Following instructions carefully and informing your transplant team of any issues you have or are concerned about will help you return to a normal, active life.

Patient Story


Young Methodist Hospital patient with all odds against him receives heart transplant

Patient with COVID-19, pneumonia and heart failure survives with help of ECMO.
Read more about this story 

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