As donor hearts are scarce, you'll need to be assessed carefully to determine whether a heart transplant is suitable if your doctor thinks you could benefit from a transplant.
A heart transplant may be considered if:
If it's thought you could benefit from a heart transplant, you'll be assessed at a transplant centre to check whether having one is suitable.
An in-depth assessment at a transplant centre is needed to find out more about your health and check whether there are any underlying problems that could affect your suitability for a transplant.
This will usually involve having several tests, such as:
You'll also have the opportunity during your assessment to meet the transplant team and find out more about the procedure.
You may find it useful to write down a list of questions you'd like to ask the transplant team before your visit.
Not everyone who could benefit from a heart transplant will be suitable for one.
This is because the operation places a major strain on the body and may mean the risks outweigh the potential benefits.
For example, you may be considered unsuitable for a heart transplant if you:
Age is not a factor in determining whether a heart transplant is suitable, although they're rarely performed in people over the age of 65 because they often have other health problems that mean a transplant is too risky.
The final decision about whether you're suitable for a heart transplant is a joint decision made by the transplant team.
You may be informed about the decision before leaving the transplant centre.
But if your case is not straightforward, it may be several weeks before you're told the decision.
The transplant team may decide you're:
In some cases, further tests are necessary to make a final decision, or you may be referred to a different transplant centre for a second opinion.