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Steps to Heart Transplant Recovery

Male patient smiling at a physician

Heart transplant recovery doesn’t stop when you are discharged from Tampa General Hospital following surgery. Introducing a new organ into the body presents some unique challenges, including the risks of rejection and infection – particularly in the first few months after the surgery. To monitor your recovery following the heart transplant procedure, the health care team at TGH’s Heart Transplant Program will ask you to return to our Cardiac & Lung Transplant Clinic located on the third floor of the Harbourside Medical Tower for periodic biopsies, lab tests, and physical examinations. Although each heart transplant patient’s schedule will vary based on his or her individual recovery, a typical post-surgery plan will look like this:

  • Weekly evaluations and biopsies for the first month
  • Biweekly assessments and biopsies for months two and three
  • Monthly evaluations and biopsies for months four, five, and six
  • Bimonthly evaluations and biopsies through the remaining months in the first year after heart transplant surgery

From the start of your heart transplant recovery and onward, you’ll be asked to return for comprehensive evaluations that will include a physical examination, a cancer screening, an electrocardiogram, a stress test, and a left and right heart cauterization with a biopsy. Because you will be required to attend such frequent appointments at our clinic, you’ll need to remain within a one-hour drive of TGH for the first six weeks after you’ve been discharged from the hospital. If you happen to live outside of this range, our social workers can help you find lodging in or around Tampa; for some heart transplant recovery patients, TGH’s Transplant House could be a viable option. You’ll need to have a friend or family member drive and accompany you to these appointments, as well as bring your vital sign recordings and list of medications.

To learn more about the steps to recovery following a heart transplant performed at TGH, contact the referral coordinator at 1-800-505-7769 (press 1 for the heart transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator). You can also call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088.