Heart failure

Heart transplants for people with heart failure

Having a heart transplant is one of the last forms of treatment available to those with heart failure. Generally it is only considered when all other forms of appropriate treatment including angioplasty and medication have been tried and failed.

We talked to people who had been assessed for heart transplant at specialist hospitals and had undergone tests. One was shocked to be told he was not fit enough to go through with the operation. 

Another man, still waiting for a transplant, said that his height (he is 6' 2”) as well as the anti-bodies in his blood group were making it more difficult for the hospital to find him a suitable donor heart. He talked about the difficulties of managing his own pain relief without taking too much morphine. Sometimes he said he felt hopeful about getting a donor heart but when he is feeling relatively well he has mixed feelings about putting himself through a transplant.

Several other people said that the possibility of a heart transcplant in future had been mentioned. For some this gave them hope for the future, though one man thought a transplant may put him at greater risk of dying. Most people who had talked to their doctors about having a transplant had been told either that they were too old or that their hearts wouldn't withstand the operation. Philip had been told a transplant would only be possible if he lost a certain amount of weight.

Paula, whose heart failure was caused by congenital heart disease, had previously been on a transplant list but subsequently taken off it when her condition improved. Daniel had initially been assessed for a transplant but his condition then improved. He has been told that a transplant is a likely option for him if he gets worse again but he would have to lose some weight and be well enough to withstand it. At age 38 he has mixed feelings about whether to have a new heart as it may not last for more than a few years.


Last reviewed April 2016.
Last updated April 2016.


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