When you receive news that a new heart is available for your child, it will be a time of overwhelming emotions. You and your child will likely have many questions and concerns. Try to give them as much honest information as you can to help prepare them, and remember to ask your medical team for help and support.
Your transplant team will contact you to let you know that a donor heart is available and instruct you on when to come to the hospital and where to go when you arrive. Your child will undergo various medical tests to make sure they are ready for transplant.
Once in the operating room, the failing heart is removed and the new heart is inserted and attached. This process typically takes 4-8 hours. When the surgical team is sure that the new heart is functioning as it should, your child will be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) for recovery.
Once in the ICU, it takes a few hours for the child to settle in. Your child’s nurse will be able to keep you informed and let you know when you can visit. Parents should expect to see their child attached to many monitors, tubes and machines, which can be overwhelming. Your child's medical team can explain how they are helping your child.
When your child no longer needs to be in the ICU, he/she will be moved to the cardiology unit, where parents and other members of the transplant team will care for your child. Before you go home, you will learn about life after transplant and how to manage your child's care.
To learn more about the heart transplant process, click here.