Transplanting a New Heart: Heart Transplant Surgery
The body is made up of billions of specialized cells arranged in
groups to perform various functions. These cells can only survive in
an environment where adequate blood flow brings them oxygen for
metabolism and removes waste products in the form of carbon dioxide.
The heart is the pump that moves blood throughout the body. It takes
unoxygenated blood from the head and rest of the body, moves it to the
lungs to be oxygenated, and then pumps this oxygenated blood into the
rest of the body through the powerful left ventricle. When the heart
fails, the rest of the body has to function with less and less
oxygenated blood. Without adequate blood flow, eventually the heart
and body will give out.
When heart failure can no longer be managed through medications or
electrical devices, a new heart is needed. A heart transplant surgery
is the process of replacing a diseased heart with a healthy donor
heart. The donor heart comes from someone who has been deemed brain
dead. Once the donor's heart has been removed it is placed in a
special ice solution to keep it cool as it is brought back to the
transplant center. The diseased heart is removed, the new heart is
reconnected to the major blood vessels, and blood flows through the
new heart into the body.