After you are referred to the Heart Transplant program by your physician, you will have an evaluation at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Careful screening by the transplant program will determine if you are a suitable candidate for a heart transplant. This evaluation will take place during your first clinic visit.
Your local cardiologist may complete some of the tests needed for the evaluation process in your home town. If this is the case, you can expect your first clinic visit to last about one full day. If you will be completing the entire evaluation process at Intermountain Medical Center, you should expect your visit to extend to two or three days.
At your first visit, you will be seen by many of the professionals on our transplant team:
- A Cardiothoracic Surgeon will discuss LVAD and/or transplant surgery with you, and evaluate your health to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for surgery.
- A Heart Failure Cardiologist will evaluate your heart function and determine the severity of your heart failure. They will also discuss with you the medical and lifestyle considerations of life after transplant.
- A Transplant Pharmacist will discuss with you the post-transplant medical regiment and review your medication history.
- A Dietitian will create a diet plan to help you manage your heart failure and best prepare you for surgery. • A Financial Coordinator will explain your personal financial responsibility and determine if you have adequate insurance coverage.
- A Licensed Clinical Social Worker will evaluate your mental health and social support to ensure you will be successful after transplant surgery. He will also discuss any emotional or social concerns you may have regarding transplant.
- If recommended by the social worker, you may be asked to participate in a psychiatric evaluation.
You will also undergo several medical tests:
- Lung function test
- Echocardiogram and/or cardiac MRI
- It may be necessary to repeat a right heart catheterization even if you have had the test at another center.
- Selective coronary artery angiogram (SCA) — If SCA has been done at another center with in the previous six months, bring a DVD of the films.
- Blood tests
It is not uncommon to be admitted to the hospital for a few days for further evaluation. You will also meet with a current transplant or LVAD patient to discuss that patient’s experiences and lifestyle changes.
Once all the information is collected, a multidisciplinary team — including critical care physicians and nurses, heart failure and transplant cardiologists, heart surgeons, social workers, and speech, occupational, and physical therapists — meets to determine if heart transplant or LVAD (artificial heart) therapy is the right treatment option for you. Additional information is then discussed with you, with the final decision made by the patient.