Transplant Services

Heart Transplant Program

UTMB Health's Medicare-approved Heart Transplantation Program was established in 1993. UTMB also offers ventricular assist devices (VAD) placement as bridge to transplant or as treatment for severe heart failure when transplantation is not an option.

woman holding a heart

Our Program

The UTMB Texas Transplant Center provides a complete continuum of care, from initial evaluation and counseling through surgery, post transplantation, rehabilitation, and lifelong follow up.

The Heart Transplantation program has successfully treated end-stage heart failure with transplantation since 1993, and has used Ventricular Assist Device placement as bridge to transplant since 1994. Our program offers patients with organ failure the full spectrum of management options with experienced Heart Failure and Transplantation teams.

Patient care is provided by our multidisciplinary team of surgeons, physician specialists, transplant coordinators, dedicated inpatient nursing and ICU staff, occupational and physical therapists, social workers, dieticians, transplant pharmacists, and financial counselors dedicated to the health and education of transplant patients and their families.

Cardiac Transplantation Indications

  • Intractable and irreversible cardiac dysfunction with NYHA Class III or IV functional limitation
  • An expected survival without transplantation of less than 10% at one year
  • No other medical or surgical therapeutic options
  • Patients up to age 60 - 65 years who have good rehabilitation potential post transplant

Exclusion Criteria

  • Significant COPD or interstitial lung disease
  • Neoplasm not in a curable state
  • Renal and hepatic failure independent of heart failure
  • Insulin-dependent diabetes with impaired end-organ function
  • Drug, tobacco or alcohol dependency
  • Psychiatric or emotional disorder likely to interfere with medical compliance
  • Any medical condition likely to limit survival after transplantation

Patients who have any of the above contraindications for transplant may be considered on an individual basis to determine potential reversibility of the excluding factor.

Patient Evaluation

Patients and their caregivers are seen in the outpatient transplant clinic by members of the Heart Failure and Transplant teams for an initial consultation and are screened for transplantation candidacy.

The multidisciplinary evaluation is then planned as a brief inpatient stay or as outpatient testing based on the patient’s needs.

The results of the transplant evaluation are reviewed by the Multidisciplinary Heart Transplant Selection Committee and a decision is made regarding the suitability of the patient for transplantation. The result is communicated to the patient and referring physician in writing.


While waiting for a heart transplant, patients are monitored closely by the Transplantation Team in collaboration with the referring physician. If indicated, the patient can be placed on inotropes or a ventricular assist device as a bridge to transplant.

A post-operative stay of ten days is generally anticipated. Transplantation patients at UTMB Health are provided individualized care and are educated by team members on how to be successful with a new and complex plan of care. Collaboration with all our referring physicians regarding follow up and readmission for serious complications ensures continuity of care.

Effective health care results from active collaboration and patients and their caregivers must work together to promote a positive outcome. Communication with patients and referring providers is our priority.

After Transplantation

The goal of transplantation is to improve quality of life. Many transplant recipients are able to return to work and an active lifestyle with a substantially improved quality of life. Heart transplantation patients will require lifelong medical care and medication to prevent rejection or complications.

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