Heart Transplant

Heart Transplant

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Duke's heart transplant program has some of the shortest wait times in the region. Our program is also one of the nation’s largest and consistently ranks in the top five for the number of transplants performed each year.

Our experienced team uses advanced medical and surgical strategies to provide excellent outcomes for people with poor heart function due to end-stage heart failure, congenital heart disease, or other severe heart conditions.

Our Doctors
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Before Your Heart Transplant

Extensive Evaluation

Our first step is to determine whether transplantation is the best therapy for you. The evaluation process may take several days, depending on the severity of your heart disease, how your heart is functioning, and what tests or screenings you’ll need. A transplant coordinator will help you plan your visit to Duke. The following tests may be performed.

  • 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 your heart.
  • Right Heart Catheterization. Provides information about your overall heart 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. Assess blood flow to your head and brain.
  • Pulmonary Function Test. Assess your lung capacity and function.
  • Team Assessment. Our team of specialists include social workers, clinical psychologists, financial counselors, and nutritionists.

Heart Transplant Waitlist

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).

Preparing for Your Heart Transplant

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.

Your Caregivers Are Our Partners

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.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

After Your Heart Transplant

Preventing Organ Rejection

Although organ rejection may follow transplants, our well-developed treatment strategies make organ rejection uncommon.

Support for You and Your Caregivers

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.

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One of the Nation's Leading Heart Transplant Centers

Extensive Experience
Our heart transplant program has performed twice as many heart transplants as any other center in North Carolina. As of 2019, we have performed more than 1,350 heart transplants -- a number achieved by only a handful of transplant centers across the country.

Shorter Wait Times
Our program has some of the shortest wait-list times on the East Coast. We offer transplantation to patients whose risk levels have been considered too high for many other programs, and our one-year survival rates remain very good.  

We Look for Every Opportunity to Offer You a Transplant
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 advanced heart failure.

Education and Support Throughout the Process
Your transplant coordinator will help you navigate the transplant process and answer your questions about everything from the initial evaluation to the surgical procedure to your financial, emotional, and dietary concerns. Our care guides help prepare you and your family for your emotional and physical needs before and after transplant.

Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Experts
Our doctors are 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 also offers VAD as a permanent therapy for end-stage heart disease when transplant is not an option. 

Multi-Organ Transplants
Our surgeons are experienced in transplanting hearts in combination with other organs, such as lungs, livers, and kidneys.

Advancing Best Practices in Transplantation
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.

Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties
Best Heart Hospital in NC
When it comes to your heart care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital's nationally ranked cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked the best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.
Reviewed: 04/04/2019