Heart Transplant Recovery
After a heart transplant surgery, the patient is cared for in the Baptist Cardio-Pulmonary Transplant Unit (CPTU), located on the second floor of the Baptist Heart Institute. During the recovery period, the transplant team teaches the transplant recipient what to expect during the recovery period and following discharge. This teaching includes information about the patient's immunosuppressive medications and how to monitor progress when he or she returns home.
How quickly a patient recovers after heart transplant depends on many factors: age, general health, and response to the transplant. Most patients are up and about within a few days after surgery and home in 7 to 16 days.
After the transplant and discharge from the hospital, patients are seen frequently and monitored closely for signs of the heart being rejected by the body. Medications to prevent rejection are monitored and adjusted very carefully. Patients are seen in the Transplant Clinic every week for 4 weeks, then every other week for the second month, every month for one year and every 6-8 weeks, or as needed, after one year. Each patient participations in a cardiac rehabilitation program to help in regaining strength and returning to an active lifestyle. With this wonderful second chance at life, it is important for heart transplant patients to take care of the new heart by carefully following instructions regarding medications, diet and exercise.
For patients living outside of the Memphis area, arrangements can be made through the hospital for temporary lodging near the hospital for the first few weeks after discharge from the hospital.
Our team will communicate with your cardiologist or primary care physician during the transplant process to update them on your progress. Routine care will be transitioned to your physician, but for the continuity of care and to ensure the very best outcomes, we will follow you for the life of your transplant and at the same time work with your primary care physician.
Special instructions will be provided about diet, nutrition, exercise, hygiene and medications in the discharge plannin/education process based on the patient's individualized plan of care. Heart transplant patients will receive anti-rejection medications which can lower the strength of the immune system and increase the risk of developing an infection the first few weeks after the operation. Following a heart transplant, patients will have increased nutritional needs, particularly requiring additional protein to help build muscle strength. Exercise will play an important role in recovery as well, so a Baptist physical therapist will help you develop a sustainable exercise plan to help you keep yourself healthy.
For more information, read our heart and vascular frequently asked questions (FAQs) now.