Entrust your heart to the leading transplant team in the Northwest.

Proven Expertise

UW Medicine's Heart Institute is one of only eight elite facilities in the nation to achieve the highest possible score from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

Superb Results

We perform the highest volume of heart transplants in the country, with patient outcomes that far exceed the national average.

Innovative Solutions

Our groundbreaking research and clinical trials help establish experimental treatments as new standards of heart care.

Some of our common services:

Your transplant care team includes a number of people:

  • A transplant coordinator provides education about the process and is your advocate throughout.
  • A transplant cardiologist determines whether you are a good candidate for transplant and will provide care for you for the rest of your life after transplant.
  • A transplant surgeon meets with you to discuss the significance of having the surgery, the transplant procedure, risks, possible complications and recovery process.
  • A transplant pharmacist will teach you about the medicines you will be taking after your transplant.
  • A social worker will evaluate your ability to cope with the stress of having a transplant and identifies your support network.
  • A financial counselor will talk to you about associated costs and insurance coverage.
  • A psychiatrist may conduct an in-depth psychiatric evaluation.
  • A dietitian will assess your diet and provide nutrition education.
  • You may also be referred to another service for consultation to check for other medical conditions.
Patients with end-stage heart failure who are waiting for a donor heart to become available often benefit from temporary or long-term mechanical circulatory support implant. Most temporary MCS pumps reside outside your body, with tubes that can be implanted without open heart surgery. These durable, reliable devices help maintain patients’ health and allow them to be mobile until their transplant surgery. For patients who aren't eligible for a transplant, an implant can be a good permanent solution.

A total artificial heart (TAH) is a surgically installed pump that replicates the actions of a normal heart while you're waiting for a heart transplant. A TAH is powered and controlled by a portable driver that fits in a shoulder bag or backpack and weighs about 14 pounds.

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A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a surgically implanted pump that helps your heart pump blood by taking over the function of one or both ventricles when needed. The pump is connected to a small computer worn on the belt. Your doctor might recommend a VAD to support your heart while you're waiting for a transplant.

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Patients being considered for a heart transplant undergo a variety of evaluations to test psychological, social and physical readiness. Blood and other diagnostic tests are performed to identify a donor match and gain a picture of overall health before the procedure.

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When the heart has trouble pumping blood, the body receives less blood than it needs. The heart failure specialists at the UW Medicine Heart Institute are experts at using a variety of treatments to help people who have weak hearts and those with end-stage heart failure. Treatments might include medication, corrective surgery, an implant or a heart transplant.

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Heart Institute home

Patients who have end-stage heart disease sometimes have other diseased organs as well. Our highly trained surgeons work closely with other specialists to treat patients who need multiple organ transplants, including heart-kidney, heart-lung, and heart-liver. Our innovative surgical methods and technologies produce excellent outcomes.

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Ours is the only transplant center in the region with a specialized transplant infectious disease (ID) team. The transplant ID team consists of a group of board-certified ID physicians with expertise in transplant infections. Through close attention and monitoring, our care team works with you to minimize the risk of infection following the transplant procedure. Infection can occur in the new organ or the tissue surrounding it. Your care team will also monitor for any bronchial tube problems following the transplant.

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This is the last resort for people with heart failure. Although heart transplant surgery presents risks, it is a life-saving procedure for many people. Half of our heart transplant patients are still living with their transplanted hearts after 17 years, whereas the national average is closer to 11 years.

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Inform yourself to make the best choices for your health and care with UW Medicine patient education resources. Find out what to expect when faced with a heart transplant.

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Rejection of the new heart remains a risk of transplantation. Rejection occurs when the body interprets the new organ as foreign tissue and attacks it as an immune response. Medicines must be taken following the transplant procedure to decrease the immune response and diminish the risk of rejection.

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To refer a patient, call 206-598-8069 or complete our online referral form at the link below. Patients who are requesting appointments or self-referrals may call 206-598-4300.

Referral form

Emotional support is an important part of your treatment. Support groups and community resources can help you and your loved ones through transplant and recovery.

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Team Transplant was established at UW Medical Center in 2001 to promote physical activity and organ donation awareness. The team's goal is to train for and complete local walking and running events. 

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Condition Spotlight

Heart transplant rejection

Overview

Transplant rejection occurs when the immune system sees the new heart as a foreign object and starts to attack either the heart tissue itself or the body’s arteries. Transplant rejection is common — even in patients who take anti-rejection medication — and can occur months to years after the transplant surgery.

Symptoms

It’s common for rejection to happen without any symptoms. The first symptom might be a heart attack. Other symptoms may include feeling tired or weak, fever or chills, shortness of breath, fast or irregular heartbeat, drop in blood pressure, sudden weight gain, reduced amounts of urine, dizziness or nausea.

Risk factors and causes

One of the most important risk factors is a genetic mismatch between the heart donor and heart recipient. Younger heart recipients are also at greater risk for rejection. Rejection can happen in a normally functioning immune system. Failing to take anti-rejection medicines as prescribed can cause transplant rejection.

Diagnosis

Often, a healthcare provider will diagnose acute rejection using a heart biopsy to show signs of rejection before symptoms appear. Finding a rejection early increases the chances it can be treated. Electrocardiograms, echocardiograms and blood tests that check for certain genes tied to rejection may also be used.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the severity of the rejection, symptoms, current medicines and the type of rejection. Some options for treating acute cellular transplant rejection include increasing the anti-rejection medication dosage, adding medication to suppress the immune system, plasmapheresis or open heart surgery.

Complications

In rare cases, heart transplant rejection can cause complications such as failure of the new donor heart, abnormal heart rhythms (some of which can cause sudden death) and heart attack. Your care team will partner closely with you before, during and after your transplant to monitor your progress.

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