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.
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:
- Advanced heart failure
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
- Heart defects present at birth
- Heart valve disease
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Severe coronary artery disease
- Severe scarring of the heart muscle
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.
Steve Herndon had just gone on a 5-mile hike with his family. One week later, his heart was failing and he said what he thought would be his final goodbye to his wife. Find out how doctors and surgeons at The University of Kansas Health System saved his life.
Lola Brown, a geriatric nurse, was no stranger to caring for those with serious health conditions. But her advanced heart failure took her by surprise. To survive, Lola would need a heart transplant.
Young and healthy, Zach Engelken wrote off his symptoms of heart failure as a bad cold. But cardiologists at The University of Kansas Health System diagnosed Zach with acute heart failure, and his only hope was a new heart.
Why choose us
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.
Our cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons are some of the most respected heart doctors in Kansas City.
We offer multiple locations for advanced heart care in greater Kansas City, eastern Kansas and western Missouri.
The future of heart care begins here
Our heart transplant service reflects our commitment to provide continuous care. Currently, there is no other established heart transplant program in Kansas; if a new heart is needed, patients must be transferred and cared for at an out-of-state hospital.
Data from the Midwest Transplant Network shows that 65 hearts were available in the region over the past year; however, only 31 were transplanted. This means 34 organs could have been used locally, and were instead exported due to the lack of heart transplant programs in Kansas. Our heart transplant team allows us to serve Kansans without interruption in medical care; you will be seen the same day or next. Current or former cancer patients who are experiencing any active symptoms of heart disease are encouraged to call 913-588-9700.