Heart Transplant | Listing and Waiting

At the conclusion of an evaluation for heart transplant, the transplant-team cardiologist and heart-transplant coordinator will communicate results to you and your child. They will also communicate these findings to a child’s primary physician and cardiologist.

Generally, there are three possible outcomes from the evaluation:

  • Heart transplant is contraindicated or not possible.
  • There are other treatments or medications available that should be considered prior to heart transplant.
  • Heart transplant is a treatment option.

In all of these situations, the heart transplant team will work with a child’s physicians and family to develop a coordinated care plan.

Listing for heart transplant

Once you and the transplant team decide heart transplant is the most appropriate treatment option, the child will be “listed” on the national computer system, United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), as a potential transplant recipient. UNOS matches organ donors by weight and blood type and current medical need with individuals waiting for a new heart. The wait can be from days to months.

The goal during listing and waiting is to preserve a child’s current cardiac function and to ensure the best quality of life possible. The waiting period may include frequent visits to the hospital for periodic checkups and hospitalizations for changes in medications. It is also possible that a child will need to wait in the hospital where intravenous (by vein) medications are administered to support the heart’s functioning. 

If medically needed, a ventricular assist device (VAD) is used to provide a bridge to heart transplant.  Depending upon the type of VAD, the child may be at home or in hospital.

The heart transplant team will support the family during the waiting period. Our social worker and child psychologist are available for the family as needed.