Penn Transplant Institute

Heart Transplant Surgery

Heart Becomes Available

When a suitable heart becomes available through the donor process, the on-call nurse coordinator calls the patient. The patient is told to come directly to the hospital admissions office at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Patients are reminded not to eat or drink anything and what medications to continue taking.

Upon arrival, the patient is admitted to a hospital room and the heart transplant team begins preparing for surgery. A chest X-ray and blood test are done immediately prior to surgery. Patients wait in their hospital room with their support team until it is time to go to the operating room.

Patients who are already hospitalized have the opportunity to contact friends and relatives who may visit before surgery.

During surgery, family and friends are directed to the surgical waiting rooms located on the fifth floor of the Founders Building or second floor of the Dulles Building. It is important that a member of the surgical team know where the family is waiting in order to provide them with updates throughout the surgery.

The surgery process lasts from six to 12 hours. After surgery, patients go directly to the Heart and Vascular surgical intensive care unit.