Listing and Waiting
After patients are accepted for transplantation and insurance approval is obtained, they are listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the national computerized listing organization that matches transplant recipients with available organs. When a patient is added to the UNOS transplant waiting list, his or her medical profile is entered into the UNOS computerized database. This system adds the patient's name and medical history into a pool of patient names. Once an organ donor becomes available, the computer then generates a list of patients who match the donor organ.
Matches are based on the following criteria:
- Locality (where the patient is listed)
- Time spent on the waiting list
- Blood type
- Severity of illness
Once a patient is placed on the list, he or she must wait for a donor heart to become available. The health care team will monitor the patient closely to assure that the patient's heart failure is controlled. Patients are seen periodically by their transplant team at a frequency determined by their level of illness. While awaiting transplant, patients may require hospitalization for changes in their medical condition. The addition of intravenous medications or heart assist devices may be necessary to keep candidates stable until a donor heart becomes available.