The fields of heart and combined heart-lung transplantation are in a constant state of evolution. As greater experience is gained in posttransplant management, more patients with end-stage heart and lung disease can be treated. Because the postoperative course and rehabilitation phase may be extremely difficult, only candidates who meet specific medical and psychosocial criteria are selected. During the waiting period, critical care nurses along with the transplant team are instrumental in stabilizing the emotional and physical condition of the transplant candidate. Postoperative complications requiring intensive therapy include decreased cardiac output, respiratory dysfunction, rejection, and infection. Graft atherosclerosis, obliterative bronchiolitis, and malignancy are long-term complications that may limit survival. Life-long immunosuppression and careful long-term medical surveillance are crucial to the health of the recipient. Although there are numerous emotional and physical challenges related to potentially life-threatening complications and other disturbances in daily living, the quality of life for most recipients has greatly improved.
Muirhead, J. (1992). Heart and heart-lung transplantation. Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America, 4(1), 97–109. https://doi.org/10.1016/0003-4975(91)90313-f