Heart transplant surgery in Iran: Everything you need to know
If you are thinking about having heart transplant surgery in Iran, you would have many questions in your mind. In this article, we will tell you all about heart transplant surgery in Iran and provide you with comprehensive guidelines about this heart surgery.
Is Iran the right place for heart transplant surgery?
Due to western propaganda, many people might think of Iran as a warzone. Therefore, they would not be considering traveling to Iran and think it is dangerous for travelers. However, Iran is a very safe country.
Regarding medical services, you should know that Iran has many modern hospitals and clinics. Iranian doctors are well trained and experienced.
The prices of heart transplant surgery in Iran is less compared to the prices in other countries.
What is heart transplant surgery?
Heart transplant or cardiac transplant is a surgical procedure that is performed to replace a damaged heart with a healthy one from a donor who recently died. This surgery is most often performed on patients with advanced heart failure after other treatments and the recommended lifestyle changes fail to treat the condition.
Why is heart transplant done?
As said before, heart transplant surgery is used as a treatment for end-stage heart failure after every other solution has failed. There are a lot of reasons that can cause this damage like:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve problems
- Consuming alcohol
- Congenital heart diseases
- High blood pressure
- Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in your lungs)
Heart transplant types
There are 2 types or 2 approaches for heart transplant surgery. The first is called the orthotopic approach, which involves removing the recipient’s heart and putting the donor heart in its place. This one is the most common approach. The other is called the Heterotopic approach, which involves putting the donor heart in the right side of the chest while the recipient’s heart stays in its place. This type of heart transplant surgery is rare.
Artificial heart transplant surgery
An artificial heart is a mechanical device that is used to replace a failing heart. Till now this device is used as a bridge to transplant for patients who are at risk of death due to heart failure. Artificial heart transplant surgery cost ranges from $100,000 to $300,000 per year.
Artificial heart transplant pros and cons
The advantages of an artificial heart transplant:
- You will not need any anticoagulation therapy
- The chances of rejection are small
- A small rate of serious thromboembolism
- Improved hemodynamics.
The disadvantages of an artificial heart transplant:
- Being on a heart-lung machine for a long time will increase the chances of worsening your health.
- More chances of structural failure
- Great chances of late calcification.
Heart transplant eligibility
To be considered a good candidate for heart transplant surgery, there are some measures you should meet. Heart transplant criteria may include:
- Heart transplant age limit: The patient must be younger than 69 years.
- The patient must not have an active infection, cancer, or a significant arterial disease that has an impact on the circulation of the brain or the legs.
- The patient must not be obese.
- Psychological stability: The patient needs to understand the risks and the requirements linked to this surgery beforehand and must commit to the aftercare process.
How to prepare for a heart transplant surgery
You will start preparing for heart transplant procedure weeks or even months before the surgery. First, you will be evaluated to see if you are a good candidate for the surgery. if so, you will need to have some tests to assess the functions of the heart, lungs, and other systems. These tests include:
- Heart catheterization
- MVO2 (exercise stress test)
- Chest x-ray
- Pulmonary function tests
- Bilateral lower extremity Doppler and carotid Doppler
- Ultrasound imagery of the abdomen/pelvis
- Blood work: You need those tests to find a good heart donor that matches your blood type to reduce the chances of rejection.
To have a successful heart transplant surgery, you need to have matching blood type with the donor. The rules are:
- Patients with blood type O can only receive organs from a donor with blood type O.
- Patients with blood type A can receive a heart from a donor with blood type A or O.
- Patients with blood type B can receive a heart from a donor with blood type B or O.
- Patients with blood type AB can receive a heart from a donor with blood type A, B, AB or O. These patients are universal recipients.
In addition to blood type match, blood indicators must be at least 50% identical between the donor and the recipient.
Tissue typing and compatibility
The body uses human leukocyte antigen to identify foreign bodies. If the HLA in the donor’s heart is not compatible with the recipient’s, the immune system will attack the heart causing rejection after heart transplant surgery.
You also need to quit smoking and drinking alcohol and stop taking blood thinners (after consulting your doctor of course) for a month before the surgery.
How Heart transplant surgery is performed?
Heart transplant surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will use a bypass machine to pump blood into your body and remove most of the heart.
Your surgeon will leave the posterior walls of the atria in place and attach the new heart to the tissues that remained. Then, the surgeon will attach the blood vessels to the new heart. Then they will shock the heart to make start beating and close the chest.
The surgery usually takes from 3 to 5 hours, but it may take longer depending on the condition of the patient.
Heart transplant surgery leaves a scar on the patient’s chest, but this scar will usually be hidden under the clothes.
After the heart transplant surgery
After the surgery, you will be moved to an ICU or cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU). After you wake up, the surgeon will see if you can breathe adequately. If so, he/she will remove the ventilator.
The doctor will prescribe some pain killers and other medicine to suppress your immune system to prevent it from rejecting the heart.
What to do when you are home?
After you go home, you should rest for a while and keep an eye for any signs of infections. This include:
- Throat soreness
- Short breath
You also need to watch for signs that might indicate heart transplant rejection such as:
- Gaining weight
- Short breath
It is recommended to have follow-up check-ups for several months after surgery.
Life expectancy after heart transplant
Life expectancy after heart transplant surgery depends on the overall health of the patient. Statistically, the results are good, 50% of the patients who have the surgery live for 13 years after the surgery.
Heart transplant rejection
After heart transplant surgery, your body will think of the new heart as a foreign object. Heart transplant rejection often happens during the next few days after the surgery but it might happen weeks or months after.
Heart transplant rejection rate
On average, the patient will have two or three episodes of rejection during the following few weeks. Most of the patients experience at least one episode of rejection during the first year.
Heart transplant rejection symptoms
The symptoms of donor heart rejection might include:
- Having a short breath
- Feeling tired
- A decrease in the amount of urine
Heart transplant complications
As with every other surgery, there are several possible complications linked to the heart transplant operation. These risks may include:
- The failure of the donated heart
- Complications from the medications
- Bleeding after the surgery
- Breathing problems
- Blood clots
- Graft failure (donated heart failure to function properly): There are few treatments for graft failure that include medication, using a ventilator, and using a bypass machine to keep the circulation working until the new heart gets better.
The cost of Heart transplant surgery in Iran
The cost of a heart transplant can be very expensive. In the United States of America, heart transplant procedures can cost around 1.4 million dollars. In Iran, it would cost only a low fraction of this number, where the cost of heart transplant surgery in Iran would range between $7,000 and $9,000. This means you can travel to Iran, have the surgery, enjoy your vacation during the recovery period, and still pay less money.
Heart transplant aftercare and recovery
For many patients, recovery can be very long. It usually takes about 6 months. During the recovery period from heart transplant:
- You need to keep the surgical area clean and dry. Your doctor will give you instructions about bathing.
- You should record your body temperature every morning.
- You should weigh yourself every morning after going to the toilet. Gaining more than 1 kilogram a day can be a sign of fluid retrain, and then you need to call your doctor.
- You should wash your hands frequently using anti-bacterial soap and keep your hand away from your mouth as much as possible.
- You must keep yourself away from sick people and ask your friends to visit you only when they are well.
- You should wash your hands after coughing or/and sneezing.
- You should stay away from animals and animal waste.
Heart transplant diet
To accelerate your recovery and the healing process, you need to have a special diet after heart transplant surgery. your diet should provide enough calories and protein. It is recommended to:
- Eat multiple small portions with high protein intake instead of just 3 large meals.
- Drink milk and supplements
- Eat foods rich in protein
- Use canola oil for cooking
- Try to replace beef with fish meat
- Reduce the amount of salt you consume
Heart transplant exercise
Exercise after heart transplant surgery is important to speed up the recovery. However, you should choose the right exercise for your condition.
For the first few weeks walking and cycling on a stationary bike are good examples. After a month or so you can lengthen the walks by 2 minutes every few days until you can walk for 30 to 60 minutes without break.
Heart transplant and quality of life
Heart transplant surgery will have a great impact on your quality of life. There will be some changes.
Heart transplant and immunosuppressants
After heart transplant surgery, you need to take immunosuppressants for the rest of your life. These medications will prevent your body from identifying the new heart as a foreign object and reject it. You should be aware that immunosuppressants may have some side effects such as kidney problems and osteoporosis.
Smoking and consuming alcohol
As everyone knows, consuming alcohol and smoking are bad for your heart. You should avoid smoking after heart transplant surgery for the following months at least. Afterwards, it is possible to smoke and drink but not in excessive amounts.
Sex and pregnancy after heart transplant surgery
Of course, it is possible to have sex and have a baby after a heart transplant operation. Just keep in mind you will need to consider having safe sex to avoid any STDs. Women might be advised to wait for a year before getting pregnant and having a baby after heart transplant surgery.
Working and driving after heart transplant surgery
You will be asked to avoid driving for 1 month or 2 after a heart transplant. Afterwards, it is usually OK to drive, but you should consult with your doctor first. Most patients can go back to work after 6 months, but some patients might need more time to recover. Children who underwent heart transplants are often able to go back to school after 3 months.
How to arrange heart transplant surgery in Iran?
You can contact AriaMedTour if you want to have heart transplant surgery in Iran. AriaMedTours will help you and take care of everything for you. By everything we mean the treatment, selecting the best doctors and surgeons, online consultation, and many more thing including the visa to Iran, the transportation, the hotels, picking you up from the airport and driving you back when you leave and assigning a personal assistant and interpreter to accompany you during your treatment.
After the surgery AriaMedTour will provide free online follow-up and post-hospitalization health care even after you go back home. You can fill the form in this page or contact AriaMedTour on WhatsApp to arrange for you heart transplant surgery in Iran.