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After Your Heart Transplant, Regular Hospital Visits are Required

After undergoing a heart transplant at Tampa General Hospital, you may be discharged to a rehabilitation facility if you were very ill prior to your transplant.  This will help you regain physical strength.  All post-transplant patients are required to return to our transplant center on a regular basis. Your appointments will be in the Cardiac & Lung Transplant Clinic located on the third floor of the Harbourside Medical Tower. There, your treatment team will conduct biopsies, lab tests, and physical exams to ensure that your body is not rejecting the transplanted heart, and make any necessary adjustments to your anti-rejection medications.

To accommodate the frequency of these appointments, you’ll need to stay within a one-hour drive of Tampa General Hospital for the first six weeks after your transplant procedure. (If necessary, our social workers can help you make lodging arrangements in the Tampa Bay area.) TGH’s Transplant House could be an option. You will need to recruit a family member or friend as a care partner to drive and accompany you to each appointment, and you also will need to bring your list of medications and vital sign recordings (blood pressure and weight).

It’s especially important to make these return visits during the beginning of your recovery because the risk of organ rejection is highest during the first few months after transplant. The further you get through the recovery process of your heart transplant, the lower your risk of rejection becomes, and the less often you’ll need to schedule these visits.

cardiothoracic referral form buttonWhile post-surgery visit requirements vary by patient, a typical follow-up schedule can look something like this:

  • For the first month after heart transplant surgery, you’ll return to the hospital for weekly evaluations and biopsies.
  • Two to three months after surgery, you’ll return for an assessment and biopsy every other week.
  • Three to six months after surgery, you’ll return for an assessment and biopsy once a month.
  • Six to 12 months after surgery, you’ll return for an assessment and biopsy every other month.

Once you reach one year post-transplant, you’ll be scheduled for comprehensive yearly evaluations. For these exams, you’ll return to the transplant center at our hospital for a complete workup, including an annual physical examination, a cancer screening, a stress test, a left and right heart catheterization with a biopsy, an echocardiogram, and additional blood work. You’ll also need to continue regular visits with your general physician and cardiologist throughout your entire recovery period.

To learn more about the follow-up examination schedule after your heart transplant, contact the heart transplant coordinator at 1-800-505-7769 (press 1 for the heart transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088. Tampa General has been ranked #5 in the country for overall organ transplant volume, making our transplant center one of the busiest in the nation.