Heart transplants date back to 1967 when Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed this life saving measure on Louis Washkansky. A heart transplant is often done on patients with severe coronary heart disease or other severe heart conditions that urge a doctor to immediately operate upon the patient. The heart of a recently deceased person is considered for this medical procedure. Heart transplant complications that can most commonly arise following and operation include infection of the new heart or rejection of the new heart by the recipient’s body. The patient’s body comprehends the new organ as a foreign substance and can show a tendency of rejecting it altogether. Any sepsis in the organ is also a possible complication that results in infection in the heart.
Heart transplant risks are always to be considered while an operation of a heart transplant is being scheduled. They include the failure of the donated heart to function properly and normally in the patient’s body. The donor heart may also be rejected as the body fails to accept it as one of its members. Complications from the medicines used to suppress the immune system are another possible risk factor. Cancer is also another possibility that can arise in the body of a person who has had a heart transplant. This is because the immune system of the person is compromised. Other risks include elevation of blood pressure levels or cholesterol levels. Osteoporosis is also frequently observed in persons after a heart transplant.
Heart transplantation is not devoid of the side effects that accompany the surgery. The side effects mainly stem from the immunosuppresant drugs that need to be taken for long-term following the operation. These drugs help the body to accept the new heart as a member of its own. The drugs that are used to suppress immunity of the body may cause kidney damage and need to be used with careful monitoring. Heart transplant side effects also include the onset of cancer as the body fails to provide immunity against infection. The body should also be carefully watched so as to avoid the development of any infections as the signs may go unnoticed because of the immunity suppressing medication.
Post heart transplant complications include rejection of the new organ, infection at the site of operation or any other part of the body, and lowered defense mechanism and subsequent ailments. Long-term associations with the cardio transplant team or rehabilitation center can improve the quality of life of patients after a heart transplant.