Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU)
You will wake up from the transplant operation in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU). The sights and sounds may seem strange to you. You will be attached to many tubes, IV lines, and monitors. The average length of stay in the CVICU is 6 days. This will vary depending on how you respond to the surgery, how quickly you recover from the anesthetic and how sick you were prior to the transplant. When you wake up you may experience some confusion due to the anesthetic. When you are stable you will be transferred to the Transplant Unit.
The Transplant Unit
The average length of stay on the Transplant Unit is nine days. This makes your total hospitalization stay approximately 16 days. This varies depending on your overall post-transplant recovery course. After your surgery, you may feel many different emotions. Many people feel relief that it is over. It is not uncommon to feel depressed or anxious after the surgery. All these emotions are common and most people feel a little of each.
While you are on the Transplant Unit you have some important responsibilities before you can be discharged, including eating, walking, coughing and deep breathing.
You and your support person will learn all about your new heart, how to take care of it, how to prevent infection, your medications and your clinic and lab schedule. The coordinators, nutritionists, pharmacists and nurses will teach you how to take care of yourself now that you have your new heart. You will have received a heart transplant manual. This is your lifelong guide that you will need to continue to refer to. The transplant team expects you and your social support participate in your education during your hospital stay. The transplant coordinator and the pharmacist will come to your room to answer questions and review your medications. Prior to your discharge, you and your support will need to complete a worksheet on the information you learned.
The transplant team will discharge you when:
- You are physically stable
- You know your medications and can set up each dose
- You know your clinic and lab schedule
- You pass the discharge review worksheet (reviewed by the coordinators)