What is a Heart Transplant?
A heart transplant is a surgery that replaces a weak, diseased heart with a strong, healthy “donor heart.”
Benefits of a Heart Transplant
Heart transplantation may be able to improve your quality of life by treating heart conditions that limit you. It may also help increase your lifespan.
What We Offer
Led by experts from OSF Cardiovascular Institute, the Heart Transplant Program at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center is the only one of its kind in central and downstate Illinois, providing a closer-to-home alternative for people in a lot of communities.
We take a multi-disciplinary approach to your advanced heart failure needs, and specialists help you deal with the impacts on your social, emotional and physical health.
The experienced team of surgeons and advanced heart failure cardiologists, plus a transplant coordinator on call 24/7, guide you through this journey of referral to transplant.
Follow-up care can be very intensive, requiring multiple blood tests every week for several weeks.
Having a care option in Peoria provides people in central Illinois with a more convenient option than having to go to Chicago or somewhere else for this care.
Being close to home allows you to be closer to your personal support system of friends and family.
Considering a Heart Transplant?
You will need a physician’s referral to the advanced heart failure cardiologists at OSF Cardiovascular Institute in Peoria, Illinois. The advanced heart failure cardiologists will help you optimize your medical management and discuss your options.
People with heart disease progressing into the American Heart Association Stage D are potential transplant candidates. Irreversible heart damage limits their life span and the ability to perform even the most minor activity.
Since donor hearts are a scarce resource, it is crucial to restrict heart transplants to those who stand a reasonable chance of long-term survival.
Testing & Education
You will need to complete a series of consultations and testing to determine your candidacy. You will also receive psychosocial and financial counseling in addition to transplant education.
Before listing a patient on the heart transplant list, the transplant committee meets and discusses each case thoroughly.
The committee consists of the transplant surgeon, transplant cardiologist, transplant coordinator, pharmacist, financial coordinator, social worker, dietician, palliative care, and other providers pertinent to the patient’s transplant workup.
Once on the waitlist, you are assigned a medical urgency status level.
The status level indicates the severity of your transplant need, based on how sick you are.
There are seven status levels within the heart allocation system.
Your coordinators will discuss what status level applies to you throughout your heart transplant journey.
Preparing for the Call
Waiting for your suitable heart can be difficult.
The wait time to receive your heart is unknown. If you are waiting for your heart in the hospital, your wait time could be lower.
Getting the Call
When a suitable heart is ready for you, you will need to come to the hospital as soon as possible.
If you are considered healthy, the team will prepare you for heart transplantation surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions
If transplanted, how long will I be monitored by the transplant team?
Your new heart will need lifelong monitoring by a transplant team. The frequency of testing and visits will decrease over time.
How soon will I receive a transplant?
It is unknown as to how long you will wait for your new heart. Blood type, antibodies in your blood, and severity of your heart failure (status level), and the availability of this scarce organ are some of the variables in your wait time.
Should I bring the family to my appointment?
Yes, you must bring the main support person to this appointment. You will be seen by many specialties on your evaluation day. Your support person could have valuable questions for the team.
How often am I seen by a physician?
If you are considered a candidate for transplant and approved by the transplant team, you will be seen on average every three to six months in the clinic. After the transplant, you will have more frequent follow-up visits.
How long is the evaluation process?
The evaluation day can take up to six hours. Not only do you need to fully understand the transplant workup, but we also need to understand you as an advanced heart failure patient. You will be seen by the transplant coordinator, a palliative care specialist, a licensed dietician, a pharmacist, a licensed social worker and a financial coordinator.
Will my insurance cover a heart transplant?
All insurance plans are different. Our transplant financial coordinator will assist you in understanding your insurance coverage.
Am I too old for a heart transplant?
As we consider all potential heart transplant candidates on a case by case basis, we want to make sure that we limit the option to those patients who stand a reasonable chance of long-term survival. Our upper age limit for heart transplant candidacy is 70 years old.
Can I still be considered for a transplant if I’m a current smoker?
Our program has a strict policy that all patients seeking candidacy are nicotine-free for at least six months before evaluation. Other advanced options are available and may be discussed with your physician.