Heart transplant and VAD in Nashville | Ascension
Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Yerokun talks with a male patient at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart.

Heart transplant and VAD in Nashville

See what makes Ascension Saint Thomas in Nashville, Tennessee, a leader in heart transplant and VAD care.

If you or a loved one needs a heart transplant, you are connected to cardiologists and cardiac surgeons at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart. You can have confidence knowing your care team is one of the most experienced teams in the country. Your heart care starts when you meet with cardiovascular specialists who have the expertise to diagnose, treat and manage advanced heart failure. Together, a team of doctors dedicated to you provides advanced therapeutic and surgical heart and vascular care with the goal of helping to improve your heart function and get you back to your life and family.

Heart care that is right for you

Every appointment starts with a conversation about how you are feeling, any new symptoms or concerns. Then, your doctor evaluates your health, including using advanced diagnostics and testing. Your nurse coordinator guides you through your evaluation and tests, meets with you and your specialists, and works with your doctor on your care plan and post-surgery rehabilitation.

Ventricular assist device (VAD) for heart failure

If you are diagnosed with advanced heart failure, you may need a VAD. A ventricular assist device helps your heart temporarily or permanently pump blood throughout your body. A VAD may be recommended by your doctor if you are recovering from surgery, awaiting a heart transplant or unable to receive a heart transplant. The three types of VAD devices are:

  • Biventricular assist device (BiVAD)
  • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
  • Right ventricular assist device (RVAD)

Receiving a VAD requires an open-heart surgery and patients typically stay in the hospital for multiple days following the procedure. After your surgery, your care team works with you and your caregivers to help you have an easier transition to your home, skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation care facility. A VAD can help keep you healthier while you wait for a heart transplant.

LVAD for short-term or long-term therapy

An LVAD may be used as a short-term or long-term treatment for patients with severe heart failure. Bridge-to-transplant therapy is a short-term option where the LVAD is used to support patients while they wait for a heart transplant. Long-term therapy, also called destination therapy, is for patients who are not good candidates for a heart transplant due to health complications or other reasons. Unlike bridge-to-transplant therapy, long-term therapy is used to support a patient’s heart for the rest of their life.

Ascension Saint Thomas Heart was the first hospital in Middle Tennessee to be approved for long-term therapy by The Joint Commission.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

Your doctor may recommend extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy for you when other therapies are not working and while you are waiting for a heart transplant. ECMO allows your lungs and heart to rest and make sure your tissues are getting enough oxygen. This machine maintains blood flow and oxygen to vital organs, like the brain, kidneys and liver. To make a referral, please call 615-222-5533.

Heart transplant program

Your doctor may recommend a heart transplant if you have severe heart disease such as advanced heart failure and your heart doesn’t respond to an implanted device or medications. The first step is an evaluation to see if you meet the criteria for a transplant. There are many factors that affect whether you are a good candidate for heart transplant and whether it might work well for you, including, but not limited to:

  • Active infections, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, or other diseases
  • Active use of alcohol or tobacco
  • Age 69 or younger
  • Height and weight
  • Stage of heart failure

If you are a candidate for a heart transplant, you will be placed on the national waitlist. Wait times can vary from a few months to years, depending on your height and weight, blood typing, and organ availability.

While you are waiting for your new heart, you and your care team stay connected, with follow-up visits to monitor your heart health. Talk with your doctor about any new symptoms, your medications and diet while you prepare for your transplant.

The heart care team at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart has performed more than 150 heart transplants since 2016. Of those 150 patients, more than 10% had both a heart and kidney transplant. We work to evaluate patients in a timely manner, helping with faster interventions. Ascension Saint Thomas Heart ranks in the top 1% for positive outcomes. Our transplant program also ranks in the top 1% nationally for getting a transplant faster and top 5% for survival on the waiting list according to The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

Clinical trials for advanced heart failure

Cardiologists at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart are part of a national team of specialists, surgeons and care teams trained in the latest heart care testing, treatment and procedures. And, our doctors also participate in clinical trials for ventricular assist devices (VAD) and transplants. These research studies may help provide you with more advanced treatment options. To learn about our cardiovascular clinical trials, talk to our advanced heart failure doctors and cardiac transplant coordinator by calling 615-222-5533.

Meet our experienced heart care team

Get a second opinion from a cardiologist

Get the confidence and peace of mind that your doctor and cardiovascular care plan are right for you. It's easy to get a second opinion at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart. We can review your medical records and healthcare history to answer your questions and discuss options. Talk with one of our doctors about a personalized heart care plan.

When you are facing a new diagnosis or are deciding on a surgical or therapeutic treatment plan, there’s a lot to think about. If you are looking for a second opinion for advanced heart care, our cardiologists can also connect you with the right specialists for ventricular assist devices (VADs) and heart transplant. Our heart specialists can provide a second opinion, based on our experience and as part of a national care team.

Before your appointment, check with your insurance company to find out if a second opinion is covered. We can request your medical records on your behalf, so that they can be shared with your care team before your arrival.