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Personal Care While Waiting for Your Heart Transplant

It may be some time before you have your transplant surgery. While you wait, it is important to follow these steps:

  • See your transplant doctor regularly - You will need to see your transplant doctor regularly while you wait for your transplant. The frequency of appointments will depend on the specific organ transplant procedure you will undergo. Your transplant doctor will assess your health, order lab tests, adjust your medicines and tell you how often to have check-ups. You will also need to see your primary physician and/or specialist regularly. Your doctors will write to each other to share the results of your exams and note any changes in your health.
  • Maintain your physical health - While it may not be possible to improve muscle strength because of your heart condition, it is important to try to maintain your current physical condition and stamina. This can be done by following a regular exercise routine. Activities such as walking, biking, swimming, dancing, etc. are all good activities. We do not recommend work against gravity, such as heavy lifting, pushing (push-ups) or pulling (sit-ups) as this puts extra strain on the heart.
  • Eat the right foods - A healthy diet is vital to maintaining your health while you wait. It also contributes to the success of your transplant after surgery. Pay special attention to controlling your sodium intake, following low cholesterol guidelines, and achieving weight loss goals if necessary. If you do not meet the required weight, your dietitian and doctors will help you design a meal plan. You need to be at a healthy weight to stay on the waiting list.
  • Maintain a nicotine- and chemical-free lifestyle - We may test you for nicotine at any time. If we find nicotine in your body, you will be taken off the waiting list and will be required to complete a formal quit-smoking program. Regular attendance in groups such as Alcohol Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are encouraged to help you maintain your sobriety.
  • Call us if your insurance changes - If there is any change in your insurance, call your nurse coordinator right away. We may need to re-apply to your new insurance agency for permission to do a transplant.