Experienced and Compassionate Team Supports Your Heart Transplant
Doctors at Loyola Medicine are experienced and compassionate in caring for patients with end-stage heart failure and advanced heart failure. Once your cardiologist has determined that your best medical option is a heart transplant, you will be evaluated for the possibility of a transplant through a number of tests to determine if your body is strong enough to tolerate the surgery and required medication. Once your test results are in and you are officially eligible for a heart transplant, you will meet your heart transplant team.
Your Loyola heart transplant team will be your partner in finding a suitable organ match. During this time, your transplant team will support you in your efforts to stay healthy while you wait for your transplant surgery. It is important that you continue all treatment as recommended, take all medications as prescribed, follow the dietary plan provided by your nutritionist, stay active and keep all appointments with your healthcare team.
Once a match is found, your transplant team will guide you through the process of preparing your body for transplant surgery, providing expert care during your surgery and supporting you in recovery. This multidisciplinary group of expert clinicians and support staff includes:
- Transplant cardiologist
- Transplant cardiothoracic surgeon
- Pre-transplant and post-transplant coordinators
- LVAD coordinator
- Nurse practitioners
- Physical therapist
- Procurement nurse
- Clinical pharmacist
- Financial coordinator
- Social worker
Multidisciplinary Experts in Heart Transplant Surgery and Recovery
Your Loyola heart transplant team includes the following expert clinicians who will support you in all aspects of your transplant care and recovery:
- Transplant cardiologist — Your transplant cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in heart failure, advanced heart failure and end-stage heart disease. Your cardiologist will conduct your evaluation and diagnose your condition, whether it is due to coronary artery disease, a heart birth defect or other disorders. Your doctor will determine if you are a candidate for heart transplant surgery and will help keep you in the best of health while you wait for a heart transplant or a heart pump.
- Transplant cardiothoracic surgeon — Your heart surgeon is the specialist who will perform your heart transplant surgery. When you meet your transplant surgeon during your evaluation, we encourage you to ask any questions you have about the procedure. You will see your surgeon mostly during your hospital stay. Loyola’s surgeons are highly skilled; learn more about heart transplant surgery.
- Pre-transplant and post-transplant coordinators — Your nurse coordinators play a central role in your care and are experts in transplant patient care. They are registered nurses who will arrange the tests included in your evaluation while you wait for an organ donation. Our nurse coordinators have extensive experience with chronic diseases and will instruct you on all aspects of transplant surgery, including immunosuppressive drugs, psychosocial assessment, financial issues, coping skills and your transplant risks and benefits. Your coordinators also will make arrangements for your surgery and hospital stay. After your transplant surgery, your coordinators will help you with your hospital discharge and set up any needed lab tests and follow-up appointments.
- LVAD coordinator — Your LVAD coordinators are nurses who evaluate and provide care for patients who will undergo an implant surgery for a left-ventricular assist device (LVAD) as a bridge to transplant or as a treatment for heart disease. Your LVAD coordinator will provide education about the device and will be available 24 hours a day for questions or concerns.
- Nurse practitioners — Loyola’s nurse practitioners work collaboratively with your doctors to prescribe medications, diagnose conditions and develop treatment plans. They also will make sure that you understand every step in the transplant process. In addition, our nurse practitioners are adept at recognizing the signs of rejection and infection.
- Physical therapist — Loyola’s physical therapists provide evaluations, rehabilitation and treatment for our transplant patients. The goals in physical therapy are to assist you in achieving an optimal level of independence and function and to promote your health and rehabilitation. You have been coping with your illness for some time, which has left you in a weakened state; your physical therapist will help you recover your strength and movement. Learn more about cardiac rehabilitation.
- Procurement nurse — As part of the transplant team at Loyola, procurement nurse coordinators are closely involved in the complicated and detailed process of coordinating your transplant. Our procurement coordinators are on call every day of the year to help facilitate organ donation and transplant surgery. Procurement coordinators not only assist you with the transplant evaluation and testing, but also serve as key facilitators for listing and maintaining the appropriate status on the transplant waiting list.
- Psychologist — The transplant process can be an emotionally difficult time for patients and their families. Often patients are confused about the rationale for seeing a psychologist during the workup for a medical procedure. Research has shown that prior history of mood problems, substance abuse, lack of social support and noncompliance are associated with poor medical outcomes after surgery. Psychologists can help to identify and address these issues prior to transplant surgery to help improve outcomes. Your transplant psychologist’s main role is to conduct an initial psychosocial evaluation and provide supportive follow-up throughout the waiting, recovery and rehabilitative phases of transplant.
- Chaplain — Loyola’s transplant chaplains are essential members of your healthcare team. Just as Loyola’s doctors and nurses specialize in the treatment of transplant patients, our chaplains’ experience is specific to the Transplant Center. They understand the emotional, spiritual and physical needs that are particular to our transplant patients. Loyola’s chaplains also can contact your church, parish, synagogue, mosque or house of worship to arrange a visit with your faith leader.
- Clinical pharmacist — Your clinical pharmacist will provide you with instructions on the medications that you will take after your transplant. Your clinical pharmacist will evaluate the drugs you are prescribed and monitor any side effects you may experience. In addition, your pharmacist will be on the watch for any possible negative drug interactions. As a key member of your medical team, your pharmacist will monitor and adjust your anti-rejection medication if necessary.
- Dietitian — Your transplant dietitian’s role is to help you reach your nutrition goals. At your first appointment, your dietitian will assess your nutrition habits, look into any possible vitamin and mineral deficiencies, conduct a nutrition and weight history, assess any need for weight loss and talk about possible dietary restrictions. With this information, your dietitian will develop a nutritional plan to help you be as healthy as possible for your transplant surgery.
- Financial coordinator — We know that the thought of a transplant can be overwhelming—not just emotionally, but financially as well. Loyola’s financial coordinators are well-versed in insurance protocols and will do the heavy lifting for you. Your coordinator will find out whether your insurance covers procedures at Loyola and connect you with an insurance case manager. In addition, financial coordinators work with your nurses and insurance case manager to make sure that your insurance has approved you for a transplant and pre-certified you for hospital admission.
- Social worker — Loyola’s transplant social workers are involved in all aspects of the transplant process. They are skilled in psychosocial assessments and provide a wide range of services for patients and their families, including patient and family counseling, patient education, financial resources and support groups. Social workers see patients in the hospital, outpatient clinics and are available for phone consultations.
If you would like to make an appointment or need assistance in finding the appropriate doctor, please call us at 708-327-2738.