When a donor organ becomes available patients must proceed to the hospital immediately. Upon admission they will undergo preoperative tests such as blood work, chest x-ray, and urine testing. Patients will begin receiving intravenous antibiotics and a dose of immunosuppressant medication.

After anesthesia is administered, the patient is then placed on the heart-lung machine, which circulates and oxygenates the blood during the operation. During this time the organ donor team is preparing and transporting the donor organ to the operating room.

When the donor organ arrives:

  • the patient's chest is opened
  • the diseased heart is removed from the arteries
  • the new heart is carefully connected to the arteries
  • the patient is removed from the heart-lung machine after the new heart begins to function
  • the chest is closed with stainless steel wires and the fatty tissues and skin are closed with absorbable sutures (these ensure the best cosmetic result and do not need to be removed later)

Surgery takes four to six hours on average, and may take longer.


NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

Heart Failure and Transplantation Program
Phone: 212-305-7600

Find a Doctor