Heart Transplant: The Transplant Hospital Stay

The following timeline is representative of the typical heart recipient; no patient will have exactly the same experiences.

Heart Transplant Graphic

Day of Surgery

  • You will be admitted directly to the Transplant Unit
  • Blood samples will be obtained
  • A chest x-ray and EKG will be obtained


  • You will go to surgery within hours of being admitted
  • Usually lasts 4-6 hours

First Post-Operative Day

  • You will probably come back directly to the Transplant Unit, but a small number of patients go to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for a day or two
  • You will not be eating or drinking until your bowel wakes up from the anesthesia, although you will begin taking pills with a few sips of water
  • You will have an IV to prevent you from becoming dehydrated and through which you may get some medications
  • You will have a Foley catheter placed in your bladder to drain your urine. This catheter usually remains in place for at least 4 days to allow your bladder to heal, and so that your urine output can be closely monitored.
  • You will have your vital signs monitored hourly in the immediate post-operative period.
  • You will have blood drawn once a day
  • You will be assisted in taking your first walk within 12 hours after surgery, and will be expected to increase your amount of activity every day to prevent complications such as pneumonia and blood clots.
  • You will be encouraged to cough and deep breathe to prevent pneumonia.

Second Post-Operative Day to Discharge (usually after 10 to 20 days)

  • You will probably begin drinking clear liquids at mealtimes by Post-Op Day 2, and may even be eating solid food if it is tolerated.
  • You will be learning your new medications, and signs and symptoms of both organ rejection and infection.
  • A Transplant Coordinator Nurse will speak with you to arrange for local laboratory blood work and further follow-up.
  • You will have your first follow-up appointment at the Organ Transplant Clinic approximately one week after discharge. You will be given the date and time of this appointment before you are discharged.