A heart transplant, though now a safe and in many hospitals an every day procedure, is an intricate, serious and complicated surgery. Currently the problem with heart transplants is the lack of donor hearts. For every ten patients who need a heart transplant there is only one donor heart available. The following is a step by step walkthrough of a heart transplant.
The donor heart is washed and the coronary arteries are flushed out. The heart is then put in ice where it can be preserved for several hours before the surgery.
An incision is made in the breastbone and the pericardium is cut open.
All blood flow is transferred to the heart-lung machine and the heart is stopped.
All of the old heart is removed except for the upper parts of the atria.
The new heart is stitched in to the edges of the atrial walls and to the aorta and pulmonary artery.
The aorta in unclamped and the new heart is restarted, usually by raising it's temperature.