The Wait List
Once you have been accepted for transplantation, an active search for a donor heart begins. Your time on the wait list will be determined by four things: • Your blood type • Your body size • How sick you are • Antibodies in your blood that could make organ rejection a concern Blood Type The heart you receive will be matched to you according to your blood type. The following diagram shows which blood types can give to and receive from one another
Patients who are type O tend to wait longer on the heart transplant wait list. This happens because more patients on the list are type O, and because type O patients can receive only type O hearts.
The size of your body also determines how long you will wait on the list. The donor has to be close to your body size. Most people in the general population are of average size. If you are especially tall or small, you will wait longer than someone who is of average body size. Status on the Waiting List You will be placed on the transplant wait list according to the following criteria:
Status 1: For patients who are waiting at home.
Status 2: For patients who are admitted to hospital because their heart failure is not under good control.
Status 3: For patients who require an intravenous medication to support their hearts. For patients who need a mechanical device to support their hearts.
Status 3.5: For patients who need to be in the intensive care unit and are on two intravenous medications for their hearts.
Status 4S: For patients with lots of antibodies in their blood.
Status 4: For patients who are in the intensive care unit on life support. Also for patients who have mechanical support devices that have become infected.
The higher you are on the list, the less time you will wait. If you are a status 1 patient waiting at home, you will be on the list longer than someone who is a status 4 patient in a critical care setting. It is hard to predict how long you will wait. Some heart transplant patients wait a few hours while some wait many years.