After your surgery

After surgery, you will be moved to the Cardiovascular Surgical Intensive Care Unit (Station H-4200). 

You can expect the following while you are in the Intensive Care Unit.

  • The nurses will watch you closely.
  • You will be unable to talk for the first few hours after surgery. A breathing machine (ventilator) will help your breathing during and right after surgery. Your nurse will help you communicate (either with your hands or blinking your eyes) during this time.
  • You will receive medicines through intravenous (IV) lines in your arm or hand.
  • You will be connected to a heart monitor to check your heart rate, heart rhythm, pulse and temperature.
  • You will be in a positive pressure room and isolation to keep you from being exposed to germs.
  • Everyone who enters your room will need to wash their hands. You may have visitors as long as they do not have an illness that could be spread (such as a cold or the flu).
  • You will be asked to wear a mask when you leave your room. The mask will protect you from getting infections.
  • When your doctors feel you are ready to leave the Intensive Care Unit, you will be moved to a telemetry unit. You will start rehabilitation to regain your strength, start taking your medicines on your own, and learn other self-care skills.

Preparing to go home

While still in the hospital, you will learn how to begin your life as a transplant recipient. Routine care, medicine schedules and clinic visits will become familiar topics.

The more you learn, the better you can manage your health needs at home.

  • Learn about your medicines. Be sure you know:
    • what they are (brand name and generic name)
    • when to take them
    • how to take them
    • why you need to take them
    • possible side effects
  • You will receive a medicine list to help you learn about your medicines.
  • Learn to check your pulse, temperature and weight once a day and your blood pressure twice a day. Keep track of your numbers on this chart.
  • Wear a MedicAlert® bracelet. This bracelet identifies you as a heart transplant recipient. Go to medicalert.com for more information.
  • Learn the symptoms of infection and rejection.

Before you go home

Before you leave the hospital, you should be able to:

  • identify your medicines, why you are taking them and how to take them
  • use the Medication List when taking your medicines
  • tell staff the signs of rejection and infection
  • understand the follow-up plan
  • write down important information 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Care After Heart Transplant, cvs-ah-95405 (1/18)
First Published: 01/06/2013
Last Reviewed: 01/19/2018