Once a patient is referred to Vanderbilt, our heart transplant team works closely with the referring physician immediately. The first step of the process is an evaluation of the patient as a prospective heart recipient. When a patient is accepted as a transplant candidate, the nurse coordinator provides the patient a beeper so that he or she can be contacted immediately when a donor heart becomes available. Depending on their medical status, patients either remain under Vanderbilt care or return home to appropriate local care.
Beginning the Process
At the beginning of the process, the transplant nurse coordinator provides the appropriate phone numbers and beeper numbers of the transplant physicians and nurses. All patients awaiting transplantation are followed regularly by the Vanderbilt transplant physicians. If a patient remains at Vanderbilt, the transplant physicians and nurse coordinators keep the referring physician informed of the patient's status. Patients awaiting transplantation at Vanderbilt are normally asked to follow a carefully supervised rehabilitation program tailored for heart transplant candidates. This program takes place at Vanderbilt's Kim Dayani Human Performance Center.
If a patient requires preoperative mechanical support, various systems are available at Vanderbilt.
Once a donor heart becomes available, the potential recipient is contacted and transported immediately to Vanderbilt. A final examination is made to rule out infection.