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New heart, new life

Zach Engelken

Young and healthy, Zach Engelken wrote off his symptoms of heart failure as a bad cold. But as his health deteriorated, he sought help from The University of Kansas Health System. He was diagnosed with acute heart failure and was "very close to death." Read how a heart transplant saved Zach's life.

Heart Transplant

Heart transplant surgery is a complex procedure that is used to treat end-stage heart failure, which occurs when the heart muscle becomes too weak to pump blood through the body. A number of conditions can lead to end-stage heart failure, including, heart attack, high blood pressure, heart valve disease and other related conditions.

The heart transplant care at The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City combines experienced cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, nurses and other specialists to provide exceptional, streamlined care from the start of your treatment plan through recovery and beyond. Our cardiology and heart surgery services have been ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report since 2007.

To make an appointment, call 913-588-1227 or 844-323-1227. You can also request your appointment online. The University of Kansas Health System offers heart transplant surgery for people in the Kansas City region, as well as from out-of-state.

Who can benefit from a heart transplant?

Heart transplant surgery is typically recommended for people with a serious heart condition that poses an immediate danger to their health. Heart transplant recipients often suffer from one or more of the following conditions:

Initially, your doctor may recommend other methods of treatment to avoid surgery. However, if these therapies are unable to control your heart condition, you may benefit from a heart transplant.

Your cardiologist will determine if heart transplant is right for you. Those who experience any of the following may not be eligible for transplant surgery:

  • Active systemic infection
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Current nicotine or substance abuse
  • End-stage kidney disease
  • Fixed pulmonary hypertension
  • Major, long-term psychiatric illness that may interfere with your health
  • Morbid obesity
  • Severe peripheral vascular disease
  • Uncontrolled diabetes

Those who are not currently eligible for transplant can benefit from bridge-to-transplant services, such as a ventricular assist device.

Why choose us

  • The Center for Transplantation at The University of Kansas Health System is the largest and most successful transplant program in the region.

  • Our liver, kidney and pancreas transplant programs have already established us as a destination hospital because of our excellent outcomes and short wait times.

  • The heart transplant program builds on our nationally recognized heart program, which has experienced phenomenal growth since it was revitalized in 2001.

Heart transplant expertise

Our experienced, nationally acclaimed physicians and surgeons have developed treatments for all types of heart conditions. They are experienced in:

  • Performing heart transplants
  • Pioneering heart surgery techniques
  • Managing patients with advanced heart failure
  • Caring for patients who have received heart transplants
  • Leading heart transplant programs

What to expect

All heart transplant candidates receive an evaluation to determine whether or not they are eligible for transplant. If you are accepted as a transplant candidate, your name is added to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) list. When a donor heart is available, recipients are matched for individual factors such as blood type, body size, placement on recipient list and geographical location.

Surgery will take place at The University of Kansas Hospital. Most heart transplant surgeries take between 5-6 hours, but this time may vary based on individual factors – such as previous heart surgery or implanted devices.

After surgery, you will require monitoring in the hospital's cardiac intensive care unit for several days. After being discharged from the hospital, you will receive instructions on how to care for yourself at home, including specific instructions for hygiene maintenance, infection control and identifying possible complications.

You will continue to see your transplant team for regularly scheduled follow-up appointments. All aftercare will be provided at the Center for Transplantation. The 25,000-square-foot facility includes 36 exam rooms, a dedicated lab, an information resource center and comfortable waiting areas for patients and their families.

Your transplant team will work closely with your physician to ensure uninterrupted care. Support groups and other resources are available through our White Heart Learning and Resource Center, and Turning Point: The Center for Hope and Healing.