Most people can eventually return to their normal activities after a heart transplant, although it may be a few months before you feel up to it.
See below for information and advice about:
You'll have regular follow-up appointments to monitor your progress after a hearttransplant.
These will be quite frequent at first, but may eventually only be necessary once every few months, or possibly even once a year.
During these appointments, you will have tests to check how well your heart and medicationare working, and to check for any complications of a heart transplant .
You'll need to take several medications called immunosuppressants for the rest of your life after having a heart transplant.
Without these medicines, your body mayrecognise your newheart as foreign and attack it. This is known as rejection .
Immunosuppressants arepowerful medications that can have a range of significant side effects, such asanincreased vulnerability to infection, weak bones (osteoporosis), kidney problems and diabetes.
While these side effects may be troublesome, you should never stop takingyour immunosuppressants without medical advice. If you do, it could lead to your heart being rejected.
Readmore about immunosuppressant side effects .
You'll usually receive support froma Physiotherapy while you're still in hospital to help you get around and build up your strength.
You'll also be encouraged to take part in a cardiac rehabilitation programme after going home. This involves following a personalised exercise plan to help you regain your previous strength and mobility.
You can return to gentle exercise when you're feeling up to it. Avoid strenuous activities such aspushing, pulling or lifting anything heavy for at least 6 to 12 weeks.
You may eventually be able to take part in contact sports and more extreme activities such as marathon running or mountain climbing, but you should always get advice from yourtransplant teamfirst.
You don't usually need to have a special diet after a heart transplant. Agenerally balanced diet can help with healing and ensure you stay as healthy as possible.
A healthy dietmay also help reduce the risk of some of the side effects of immunosuppressants , including weight gain, osteoporosis and diabetes.
Immunosuppressants also make you more vulnerable to infections, including food poisoning . Make sure you practise goodfood hygiene to reduce your risk ofgetting a tummy bug .
Smoking can be very harmful,so you'll usually be advised to stop or avoid smoking after a heart transplant.
You may be advised to wait until at least a year after your transplant operation before trying for a baby.
If you're not trying for a baby, speak to yourtransplant teamabout appropriate contraception , as some types ofcontraceptive pill can interfere with your immunosuppressant medication.
Even if you're taking the pill, it's a good idea to ensure you or your partner use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom , because you're at an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) .
You'll need to stop driving for at least a month after a heart transplant, and you may not be able to start again for 6 to 12 weeks. Ask your transplant team for advice about when it's safe to drive.
Many people can return to work after a heart transplant, but how long it takes depends on your job and how well you recover. Most people return to work within six months.
Children who've had a heart transplant may be able to return to school within two or three months.
You can travel after a heart transplant, but it might be a good idea to wait until the first year of frequent follow-up appointments has finished. Speak to yourtransplant team for more advice on travelling.
A heart transplant is an operation to replace a damaged or failing heart with a healthy heart from a donor who has recently died. It may be recommended when a person's life is at risk because their heart no longer works effectively.
As donor hearts are scarce, you'll need to be assessed carefully to determine whether a heart transplant is suitable, if your doctor thinks you could benefit from one. The final decision about whether you are suitable for a heart transplant is a joint decision made by the transplant team.
Because of the lack of available hearts, it's rarely possible to have a heart transplant as soon as it's needed, so you'll usually be placed on a waiting list. It may be several months, or possibly years, before a donor heart of the right size and blood groups becomes available.
A heart transplant is carried out with you unconscious under general anaesthetic , and normally takes between four and six hours. You'll be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, which will take over the functions of the heart and lungs while the transplant is being carried out.
Read about what you can expect after a heart transplant and when you can return to your normal activities.
A heart transplant is a major operation, and there is a risk of several complications. Some complications can occur soon after the procedure, while others may develop months or even years later.
In 1998, Andy Cook was told he had just two days to live. But when a donor heart became available, a transplant saved his life. Bit by bit, Andy regained his strength, but his journey back to health had some setbacks.