Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute is the regional leader in heart transplantation. We performed our first transplant in 1986, and now average 20 to 25 transplants a year, making us one of the busiest heart transplant programs in North and South Carolina.
Despite advances in the treatment of heart failure, many patients will advance to end-stage heart failure and will need a heart transplant. At Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, our multidisciplinary team has the experience and collective knowledge to meet the needs of transplant patients. The team collaborates weekly to determine the best course of treatment for each patient, whether it is advanced medical therapies, mechanical circulatory support or cardiac transplantation.
The team includes:
Transplant cardiac surgeons
Pediatric transplant cardiologists
Infectious disease specialists
Certified transplant coordinators
Medical social workers
What Patients Can Expect
Patients are seen in our transplant clinic and evaluated by a board-certified cardiologist, transplant coordinator, transplant social worker and dietitian. Our team helps with other issues, such as care before the transplant and fostering family support.
Once a patient has been discharged, he or she returns to the outpatient clinic to be monitored for rejection, infection or other complications. The ultimate success of transplant depends on getting the patient comprehensive care throughout their lifetime.
Before being placed on the wait list for transplant or LVAD, these patients undergo a thorough review. Both a cardiologist and transplant surgeon conduct an evaluation, including a right-heart catheterization, echocardiogram, chest X-ray, abdominal ultrasound, pulmonary function test and mixed venous oxygenation consumption study. A social worker analyzes psychosocial readiness, and a transplant coordinator provides education and counseling. A financial coordinator is also involved in the evaluation to help guide patients through the development of a financial plan for post-transplant medication and medical care.
Patients with diabetes and ischemic cardiomyopathy must undergo further testing, including a 24-hour urine test, a kidney evaluation and an eye exam. All patients must ensure that regular office visits and screenings have been updated in the past 12 months (mammogram, pap smear, PSA, colonoscopy and dental evaluation).
After the heart evaluation is complete, the transplant team reviews all information, leveraging the collective knowledge of the entire team to make the optimal recommendation for the patient. Patients who are appropriate transplant candidates are placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) national waiting list.
To remain on the waiting list, patients must complete:
An office visit with a heart transplant specialist every three months (or as needed)