How are Donor Hearts Evaluated and Procured?

All potential heart donors are assessed carefully to help ensure the best quality organ for each recipient. After the confirmation of brain death, each donor undergoes an evaluation by a cardiologist including physical examination, echocardiogram, EKG and a heart catheterization if indicated. A careful medical and social history is obtained by the organ procurement coordinator. Each potential heart donor undergoes laboratory testing to evaluate for exposure to or presence of infectious diseases.

Dr. H. Edward Garrett and the Baptist Heart Institute Team

Dr. H. Edward Garrett and the Baptist Heart Institute Team.

The ultimate decision of whether a heart is suitable for donation is made by the transplant surgeon, who goes to the donor hospital to procure the heart. The surgeon will make sure the donor heart is in good condition before beginning your surgery. The donor heart is removed by cutting the aorta and pulmonary artery in the mid-section. The atria are removed from the veins leading into the heart.

The actual heart transplant procedure can take anywhere from four to eight hours, or longer. Each patient's case is different. When the donor heart arrives in the operating room, the surgeon will remove most of the heart and the donor heart will be placed in proper position and attached to the major blood vessels.

For more information, read our heart and vascular frequently asked questions (FAQs) now.

Heart and Vascular

Learn more about Baptist cardiology services, risk factors for heart disease and more in the Heart and Vascular Frequently Asked Questions.

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