Heart transplant evaluation and preparation

When you’re ready to explore the possibility of a heart transplant, turn to Spectrum Health. Our collaborative specialists offer welcoming, personalized care along with deep expertise in life-changing treatments for advanced heart failure.

Heart transplant evaluation

Your first step to a heart transplant at Spectrum Health is an evaluation by our transplant specialists. Rely on us for an efficient, seamless evaluation. In most cases, we’ll complete your evaluation in just two days—that’s much quicker than many transplant centers.

What to expect
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During your evaluation, you and your family will meet with several health care professionals. They will ask about your medical history and co-existing health conditions that could affect a successful transplant.

You’ll also have lab and imaging tests to help your physicians decide if a transplant will benefit your health. These tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Colonoscopy to examine your lower intestine
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans to examine your lung shape, size and structure
  • Dental exam, including X-rays
  • Echocardiogram to evaluate your heart’s health
  • Frailty test to determine the risk of post-surgery complications
  • Mammogram (for women) to look for signs of breast cancer
  • Pulmonary function tests to show how well your lungs work

Your transplant coordinator will help you schedule all your appointments and guide you and your family through the evaluation process.

What to bring
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Help you and your transplant team make informed decisions about your care options when you bring:

  • A family member or close friend who can help care for you after your surgery
  • Insurance card/s
  • Medical records
  • List of medications
Evaluation results
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Our selection committee will review your evaluation information and test results to determine whether you’re a candidate for a heart transplant.

Your transplant coordinator will tell you the committee’s decision within one day.

If you’re not a candidate for a heart transplant, we’ll discuss other care options, such as a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD).

Transplant waitlist

If you’re selected as a heart transplant candidate, we’ll place you on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waitlist. UNOS coordinates the nation’s transplant system to ensure that patients across the U.S. receive healthy organs as they become available. 

We’ll assign you an urgency status (1 to 6) based on medical information that estimates how urgently you need a transplant. Your status can change as your treatment and symptoms get better or worse. Learn more about the heart transplant waitlist on the UNOS Transplant Living website.

Pretransplant care
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While you wait for a donor heart, you’ll have frequent visits to see your transplant team. Prepare for life after heart transplant surgery by taking part in our cardiac rehabilitation program

If you live outside of Grand Rapids, ask about options for virtual care. You may be able to receive some pretransplant care in your home or community.

Getting the call
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When a donor heart become available, your transplant coordinator will call you to come to the hospital. It’s very important that you come to the hospital right away

Sometimes transplants are cancelled at the last minute because it’s not safe to perform the surgery. If your surgery is cancelled, your transplant coordinator will talk to you about next steps.

Support services for you and your family
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  • Financial counseling to help you understand insurance benefits and costs
  • Nutrition guidance to maintain or improve your health
  • Ongoing transplant education for you and your family
  • Pharmacy support and medication help

Transplant referrals


Contact our care navigator or make an appointment to discuss your health needs. 

Physician referral

Submit patient referral information through EpicCare Link, by calling our clinic directly, or through form submission. 

Get a Second Opinion

Feel certain you’re getting the best care with a second opinion at Spectrum Health.