Man at an Ascension site of care before getting TAVR, performed by a heart surgeon.

Heart transplant and VAD in Nashville

More people trust us for their heart care. See what makes Ascension Saint Thomas in Nashville, Tennessee a leader in heart transplant and VAD care.

When you have advanced heart failure, traditional heart therapies may no longer work. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and irregular heartbeat. These symptoms may appear even when you’re at rest. At Ascension Saint Thomas Heart, in Nashville, Tennessee, our goal is to diagnose, treat and help you manage your condition. If your symptoms worsen, we offer mechanical circulatory support and heart transplant. We listen to you to understand you and your health concerns. Then, we work together to create a care plan that’s right for you.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, is a therapy that temporarily takes over the function of your heart. The device pumps oxygenated blood throughout your body so your heart and lungs can rest. ECMO does not cure heart or lung disease. The device is often used as a bridge, or way to support a person who needs a long-term therapy, such as VAD (see below) or a heart transplant.

Ventricular assist device (VAD)

A ventricular assist device, or VAD, provides mechanical circulatory support for your heart. The device helps to temporarily or permanently pump blood throughout your body. A VAD is often used for people who 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)

Minimally invasive heart surgery

Our heart surgeons often use minimally invasive techniques, such as a thoracotomy, when implanting an LVAD. This helps to promote quicker recovery times and better outcomes. An LVAD may also be used as a long-term therapy. This treatment option is available to patients who are ineligible for a heart transplant due to age or other health complications.

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

Heart transplant program

You may need a heart transplant if your heart doesn’t respond to an implanted device or medications. There are many factors that determine your acceptance into a heart transplant program, including:

  • Active infections or cancer
  • Age
  • Mental health
  • Stage of heart failure
  • Use of alcohol or tobacco

The heart care team at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart has performed over 150 heart transplants since restarting the program in 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% for getting a transplant faster and top 5% for survival on the waiting list according to The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

Our care teams also participate in post-transplant research trials. This research helps us to provide you with the most advanced treatment options.

Meet our experienced heart care team

Your multispecialty care team may include a cardiologist, cardiac surgeon, transplant coordinator, dietitian, psychiatrist, nurse practitioner and social worker. With diagnostic testing and monitoring, we can provide you with the appropriate treatment. Our goal is to deliver compassionate, personalized care for your specific needs.

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, go directly to the ER or call 911.