Duke's heart transplant program has some of the shortest wait times for heart transplant in the region, and our survival rates consistently rank among the nation’s best. Our program is also one of the nation’s largest, and has been named one of the highest performing heart transplant centers in the country by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Among nation's leading heart transplant centers
Our surgeons perform more heart transplants each year than most other centers in the United States. In 2014 we performed our 1,000th transplant – a significant milestone which has been achieved by only a handful of centers. Our experienced team uses advanced medical and surgical strategies to provide excellent outcomes for adults and children with poor heart function resulting from end-stage heart failure, congenital heart disease, or other severe heart conditions.
Top ventricular assist device (VAD) center
Our doctors are also among the nation’s leaders in the development, testing and implantation of ventricular assist devices (VADs), which serve as a bridge-to-transplant. Our program is one of the largest in the nation, and offers VAD as a permanent therapy for end-stage heart disease when transplant is not an option.
Choose Duke for your heart transplant surgery because we offer:
- Experience based on volume. Our heart transplant surgeons have performed twice as many heart transplants as any other center in North Carolina. In 2014 we reached 1,000 transplants – a milestone only achieved by a handful of transplant centers across the country. We are the first center to achieve this transplant milestone in our five-state UNOS region.
- Short wait times to transplant and outstanding survival rates. Our program has some of the shortest wait list times on the East Coast; the average wait time to transplant is less than three months. Our one-year survival rates consistently remain above 90%.
- Extended criteria selection. Our innovative approaches to recipient and donor selection mean we may be able to help you even if you don’t meet the standard guidelines for transplant. We achieve excellent outcomes for older patients with heart failure, including many over age 70.
- Mending little hearts. Duke Children's heart surgery program is the largest and most comprehensive in North Carolina. We run the largest pediatric cardiac intensive care unit in the state. We offer a full spectrum of medical and surgical therapies for children with failing congenital or acquired heart disease or cardiomyopathy. Our team of specialists ensures your child receives coordinated care, family support and long-term follow up.
- Comprehensive care before and after transplant. We educate you and your family about your emotional and physical needs before and after transplant. Our care guides outline what you can expect throughout the process, including how to prepare for a transplant and how to care for your body after a transplant.
- A team of caring coordinators. Our dedicated team of transplant coordinators include advanced care nurses who help you navigate the transplant process and address your concerns. Your transplant coordinator will answer your questions about the initial evaluation and surgical procedure to financial concerns, emotional needs and dietary requirements.
- Multi-organ transplantation expertise. Our surgeons are experienced in transplanting hearts in combination with other organs, such as lungs, livers and kidneys.
- Leaders in transplantation research. Our doctors are leaders in transplantation research, which gives you access to new therapies and best practices in heart transplantation through our programs and clinical trials.
- PATIENT STORYDuke Children's Hospital performs its first combined heart-and-kidney transplant (video)
- PATIENT STORYDoctor hopes his medical journey inspires others
- PATIENT STORYHeart transplant gives new lease on life
- PATIENT STORYConsidering all options for heart failure
Before your heart transplant
Determines whether transplantation is the best therapy for you. The process may take several days, depending on the severity of your heart disease, your heart function and what tests or screenings you’ll need. A transplant coordinator will help you plan your visit to Duke. Testing may include:
- Blood and tissue tests. Check blood type and compatibility, assess kidney, liver and immune system function, and screen for viruses or infections that could affect your outcome.
- Left heart catheterization. Provides information about the arteries supplying blood to the heart.
- Right heart catheterization. Provides information about overall heart function and lung function.
- Echocardiogram. Uses ultrasound to bounce sound waves off your heart to evaluate heart function and the condition of your heart valves.
- Carotid ultrasound. Provides information about blood flow to the head and brain.
If you are considered a heart transplant candidate, you will be listed in the national database maintained and administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Once listed, our average wait time for heart transplant is less than three months.
All heart transplant candidates will participate in transplant education led by our transplant coordinators. We'll teach you and your caregivers about the transplant process, the medications you will need to take, and the recovery process.
We involve your designated caregivers -- family members or friends -- from the time of your first evaluation through recovery. They attend your appointments at Duke University Hospital, and we educate them about their important role in caring for you after surgery. They are our partners in restoring your health as quickly as possible.
After your heart transplant
Although organ rejection may follow transplants, our innovative strategies to prevent organ rejection and injury are a documented success. We provide you and your caregivers the resources and support you need to live a healthy life after transplantation. Our transplant coordinators are always available to answer your questions and address your concerns.
We offer support groups to all our transplant patients. These sessions, held at Duke University Hospital and led by social workers, give you and your loved ones a chance to meet with others for emotional support, to ask questions and share information about issues related to the transplant experience.