Heart Transplant Selection & Referral Criteria
To be eligible for a heart transplant, patients must meet several specific heart transplant criteria. This helps ensure that patients who have the greatest need for a heart are able to find a place on the waiting list, while allowing patients who are not/not yet eligible for a transplant to focus on more appropriate alternative treatments.
The selection process for Tampa General Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program begins when a patient’s physician or cardiologist submits a completed cardiothoracic transplant referral form. Our transplant center team, which is comprised of TGH physicians, surgeons, social workers, and a wide range of other healthcare professionals, will then conduct an initial review to determine if the patient needs to come in for further evaluation. Once the evaluation is completed, the patient’s test results, psycho-social assessment and other information will be reviewed by our Medical Review Board (MRB). The MRB is comprised of various members of the heart transplant team. The MRB will then decide if the patient should be added to the transplant waiting list.
Some key heart transplant criteria include the following:
- Patients must be 70 years of age or younger.
- Patients must have a diagnosis of end-stage heart disease, such as advanced cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension, or significant heart failure.
- Patients must have a prognosis that indicates significant risk of mortality within one year if a transplant is not performed.
- Patients may not have an active infection, a cancer diagnosis, organ impairment other than impairment in the heart, or a significant arterial disease that affects circulation to the brain or legs, which could reduce the chances of long-term survival.
- Patients must be psychologically stable, must understand the risks and requirements associated with the heart transplant process, and must be actively committed to post-operative rehabilitation.
- Patients must not be considered medically obese.
- Patients must abstain from alcohol and tobacco for at least three months prior to transplant listing and refrain from using throughout the entire transplant process.
- Patients must have adequate financial and social support to assist with post-transplant medications and care.
While many hospitals turn away patients with challenging transplant cases, Tampa General Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program does accept many high-risk patients, who are evaluated on an individual basis. Once a patient is placed on the waiting list for a heart transplant, a separate set of criteria used by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) determines when a heart is allocated.
For more information about our heart transplant selection and referral criteria and guidelines, please call 1-800-505-7769 (press 1 for the heart transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088.