Notice: Users may be experiencing issues with displaying some pages on stanfordhealthcare.org. We are working closely with our technical teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
The anti-rejection medications that keep your body from rejecting your new heart have the unfortunate side effect of compromising your immune system. You may have a reduced ability to fight off infections the way you used to. However, you can minimize infections by preventing exposure to infections, being aware of the symptoms and seeking treatment immediately. Now that you are a transplant recipient, view all infections as potentially serious.
General guidelines are as follows:
While in the intensive care unit, you may share a room with an uninfected preoperative and fresh post-operative heart patient or with another transplant patient.
On the step down units you will be give a private room when available, or housed with uninfected patients i.e., patients who have no fever, no draining wounds, a normal WBC (white blood count) (< 15,000) and a clear chest x-ray.
You should avoid persons with obviously contagious infections. The common cold cannot be completely avoided and is not unduly hazardous.
Wear a mask when you enter a hospital. Hospitals may contain people with contagious infections, and a mask simply minimizes the risk of contracting airborne infections. Masks are not needed outside the hospital. Hand washing is the best way to minimize the spread of infection.
Report any blisters, sores, suspicious growths or lumps in armpits, groin or elsewhere on your body to your physician.
Children who contract the usual childhood diseases generally pose no threat. Infectious mononucleosis and chicken pox are an exception. Contact your physician immediately following contact with people with these illnesses.
These guidelines will apply for subsequent readmissions, whether routine or emergent. If your WBC falls below 2,000, you will be placed in a private room for protective purposes.
Masks must be worn by employees or visitors in your room if they have a cold, if your WBC is 2,000, and by you if you are out of your room. This precaution is meant to protect you from airborne microorganisms in the hospital.
Masks are not required after discharge except upon return to any hospital setting. You will be susceptible to the common cold or flu viruses but will rarely suffer major complication from them.
The ability to heal wounds is decreased in patients taking prednisone. If you injure yourself, clean the area and keep a clean, dry dressing on the wound. Should healing be prolonged and you experience pain, swelling, redness or other signs of infection, notify your physician immediately.
Any sores, blisters, or lumps should be examined and treated by your physician. If necessary, you may be hospitalized for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Regular dental checkups and hygiene are important, since your teeth and gums can also be sources of major infection. It is recommended that antibiotics be given prior to dental or other manipulative procedure (including dental cleaning) because of the susceptibility of the transplanted heart to infection (endocarditis) with blood-borne bacteria.