Heart Transplant in Singapore

A heart transplant, also known as a cardiac transplant, is a highly sensitive procedure that involves the replacement of diseased heart with a healthy, donor heart. This treatment is mostly advised to patients with the end-stage cardiac disease or several coronary artery diseases that cannot be treated with the help of any other intervention. A heart transplant is a rare procedure that is performed at some of the most advanced and technically competent hospitals in the world.

Heart Transplant in Singapore

There are several hospitals in Singapore that offer heart transplant to patients with end-stage heart disease. The country is known for its quality of medical treatment and when it comes to a heart transplant, the best hospitals in Singapore rank among the top hospitals in the world that are known to conduct this procedure in an extremely cautious and careful manner. This procedure is performed by some of the most experienced and skilled cardiac surgeons in the country who are educated and trained from globally renowned medical universities.

Cost Comparison

Singapore is one of the most cost-effective destinations for heart transplant among other popular medical tourism destinations. It is estimated that the heart transplant cost in Singapore is as much as 80 percent less than what it costs in the US. The cost of heart transplant in Singapore, however, depends on several factors, including the cost of surgery, surgeon’s fees hospital charged, the cost of medicines and other consumables, and whether the procedure is conducted along with lung transplant.

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About the Heart Transplant

A heart transplantation is required in patients with a diseased heart. It is often recommended to patients whose heart function does not improve even after surgeries and continuous and prolonged use of medications. During the heart transplant procedure, the diseased heart is replaced with a fully functional heart. The heart used for replacement is retrieved from a patient who is brain-dead but is still on a life support system.

Because of the unavailability of a sufficient number of brain-dead donors, heart transplant surgery is still a rare procedure, even though it is a life-saving procedure. Moreover, there are just a handful of families who agree to donate the heart of their close ones because of aesthetic reasons. Even though heart transplant procedure is a major one, the chances of survival after the surgery is generally good. However, heart transplant survival rate largely depends on how well the patient has been taken care of after the surgery. Heart transplant surgery is mostly performed in patients with heart failure, which may happen because of any of the following conditions:

  • Cardiomyopathy or weakening of the heart muscles
  • Previously failed heart transplant procedure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cardiac valve disease
  • Congenital heart defect
  • Amyloidosis
  • Abnormal heart rhythm

Heart transplantation surgery is often coupled with the transplant of some other organ in patients with specific conditions. These organs may include kidney, liver, or lung, depending on the condition of the patient and the ailment he or she is suffering from. Not every heart patients, however, is eligible to undergo the heart transplant surgery. Patients with a previous history of cancer, a major illness that would anyway shorten their lifespan, active infection, advanced age, or unhealthy lifestyle habits are not recommended to undergo heart transplant surgery.

How is Heart Transplant performed?

The following steps are typically performed during the heart transplant surgery:

  • You will receive general anaesthesia so that you remain asleep during the surgery. Anesthesia ensures that you do not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
  • As the heart transplant procedure is performed on a non-beating heart, you will be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine. This machine takes over the functioning of the normal blood circulation temporarily.
  • The surgeons will make an incision in your chest and separate the chest bone to open the rib cage. This will expose your heart.
  • The diseased heart is removed and replaced with the donor’s heart. All of the major blood vessels are connected to the donor’s heart.
  • The heart starts beating as soon as you are removed from the artificial heart-lung bypass machine.
  • The surgeons may deliver a shock to the donor’s heart to make it beat if required.
  • The chest is sewn back once the beating of the donor’s heart is restored.

Recovery from Heart Transplant

You may expect to receive a couple of medications after the surgery to ease the pain. You may also be kept on a ventilator for a few hours or days to ease beating. Additionally, a chest tube may be put to drain fluids from the chest. You may also expect to receive fluids through IV following the surgery.

Recovery after heart transplantation surgery is slow. You will be required to visit the surgeon for frequent follow-ups. They will advise you to undergo a series of tests every time you visit, including echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, and blood tests. You will also be required to undergo heart biopsies to check for signs of organ rejection. During a biopsy, a pathologist will look into a tiny heart tissue under a microscope. Additionally, you will be required to make several long-term adjustments into your schedule after you’ve had a heart transplant. You will be required to take immunosuppressants and make adjustments for medications. You will require an intensive emotional support during cardiac rehabilitation. Therefore, make sure to have your near and dead ones around you during the recovery phase.

You will also be advised to make several adjustments to your lifestyle to speed up recovery. This includes guidelines pertaining to exercising, healthy diet, sunscreen use, and tobacco consumption.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does Heart Transplant Surgery take place in Singapore?

Heart transplant in Singapore is mostly renowned because of the advanced technologies used. The procedure, though complex, is performed by globally recognized surgeons who are celebrated for their in-detail analysis and implementation of necessary procedures. The procedures followed in heart transplant surgeries are:

  • After changing into the operation gown, the candidate is provided with IV lines or intravenous lines on the upper limb for injecting IV fluids and medications. 

  • Catheters are provided and attached to the wrist, collarbone, neck, or groin region in order to closely observe the blood circulation rate. This also facilitates the testing of blood samples readily. 

  • A Foley catheter is inserted into the urinary bladder for containing the urine. For draining the gastrointestinal fluids, a separate tube is attached to the stomach.

  • The candidate is shaved or clipped of any chest hair, and the patient is then subjected to anesthesia.

  • The candidate is made to artificially breathe via a ventilator, the tube of which is attached to the lungs.

  • The blood pressure, blood oxygen, and the heart rate is monitored by the anesthesiologist.

  • After sterilizing the skin, a vertical incision is made on the skin right above the sternum, stretching from an inch below the Adam's Apple to an inch before the navel. 

  • The sternum is symmetrically slit vertically and separated to expose your heart. 

  • Tubes mimicking the blood veins and arteries are supplied and connected to the cardiopulmonary bypass device which stores the blood for the time being. The affected heart is then removed keeping the pulmonary vein and the posterior wall of the artery intact.

  • Once the donor's heart is sewed in position, the device gradually diverts the blood back to the body and the tubes are removed. 

  • The heart may start beating naturally or may be triggered by shock paddles which act as the pacemaker. The beats are then followed by the SA node and picked up by the AV node normally.

  • The donor's heart is closely monitored for sometime henceforth which, the sternum and the skin are stitched back to position gradually, and bandaged.

  • The tubes and catheters are also removed.

Who is the best candidate for Heart Transplant Surgery?

Heart transplant in Singapore is performed after verifying the candidacy of the patient carefully. The determining factors that make an individual best candidate for heart transplant surgery are:

  • Terminal stage or minimum hopes of survival with the diseased heart.

  • Failure of all possible prior medications and treatments that have been implemented.

  • The candidate shows adequate health apart from the heart anomaly.

  • The candidate is free from life-threatening or long-term illness or terminal illness.

  • The candidate is capable of adhering to timely post-surgery treatments and medical supervision.

What are the best hospitals for Heart Transplant in Singapore?

The hospitals offering heart transplant in Singapore have been serving mankind for decades. These hospitals are supremely decorated with cutting-edge technology for providing extreme efficiency. Paired with globally acclaimed surgeons, the hospitals are furnished with multispecialty facilities and luxurious stay.

  • Mount Elizabeth Hospital

  • Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

  • Parkway East Hospital

What is the average cost of Heart Transplant in Singapore?

The cost of a heart transplant is determined by the number of laboratory tests, transportation cost, organ storage, medical facilities and a lot more. Heart transplant cost in Singapore is quite affordable as compared to the major countries like the USA and the UK. While the latter is reported to charge approximately $1,40,000, Singapore offers an affordable rate of USD $56,827 on average. 

What is the recovery time after Heart Transplant surgery?

Post-surgery, the candidate is observed in the hospital for 10 days to two weeks depending on the complexity. Hence, they are also advised to remain within thirty minutes of driving radius from the hospital for approximately five to six months. However, the candidate is said to completely recover after four to six or above months depending on the complications.

What is the success rate of Heart Transplant in Singapore?

In spite of affordable heart transplant costs in Singapore, the quality of the heart of the medical facilities is never compromised. With the help of topmost surgeons and advanced technology, the heart transplant survival rate in Singapore is estimated to be 80% in the primary stages, with candidates surpassing 15-20 years of added lifespan.

Why should I consider Singapore over other destinations for Heart Transplant?

Heart transplant in Singapore shall be considered because it is:

  • Affordable compared to other countries providing similar facilities

  • Performed by proficient surgeons with decades of experience

  • Furnished with progressed and up-to-date technology

  • Facilitated with unparalleled medical assistance

  • Paired with extreme hospitality and through observation.

What are the risk factors associated with heart transplant surgery in Singapore?

Even though almost all operations project some risk factors, the ones attached to heart transplants should be closely monitored. Hence, the possible risk factors are:

  • Blood loss during or post-operative measures

  • Infection, even after regular administration of anti-infective drugs

  • Formation of blood clots which may lead to cardiac arrest or stroke

  • Breathing difficulty

  • Thickening or hardening of the arteries known as Coronary Allograft Vasculopathy

  • Rejection of the donor’s heart

What is the health care infrastructure of Singapore / Why should opt for Singapore as a destination for your medical treatment?
Singapore is generally known for its well-managed health care infrastructure and has an efficient and widespread system of healthcare. Singapore was ranked 6th in the World Health Organization's ranking of the world's health systems in the year 2000. Bloomberg ranked Singapore's healthcare system the most efficient in the world in 2014. Three main healthcare groups exist in Singapore:
  • National Healthcare Group
  • National University Health System
  • SingHealth
The 10 public hospitals in Singapore comprise 8 general hospitals (AH, SGH, NUH, CGH, TTSH, KTPH, NTFGH & SKH), and 2 specialized hospitals (KKH & IMH). In addition, there are 9 national specialty centres for cancer (NCCS & NCIS), cardiac (NHCS & NUHCS), eye (SNEC), skin (NSC), neuroscience (NNI) and dental care (NDCS & NUCOHS). The private healthcare infrastructure in Singapore is also well established. The payment methods include private payment gateways or private insurance companies. You can expect better technology to be used in private hospitals in Singapore. Various procedures like stem cell therapy and cancer research are conducted in Singapore.
What are the conditions of the hospitals in Singapore? Are they JCI certified? What is the quality of the support staff in the hospitals?
The Joint Commission International (JCI) is a global leader in health care accreditation. JCI accreditation is considered a gold standard in worldwide health care. It provides the most skilled and experienced healthcare professionals in the medical industry, as evaluators of the rigorous international standards in healthcare quality and patient safety. Here are some of the JCI certified hospitals in Singapore :
  • Mount Elizabeth Hospital
  • Singapore National Eye Centre
  • National Dental Centre
  • Raffles Hospital
  • National University Hospital
  • Gleneagles Hospital
  • Singapore General Hospital
  • National Heart Centre Singapore
  • Changi General Hospital
  • National Cancer Centre
  • National Skin Centre
  • Johns Hopkins Singapore International Medical Centre
  • Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Are the doctors/surgeons in Singapore of the best quality?
Since Singapore is known all over the world for some of the best medical treatments all across the globe, you can surely expect the best quality of doctors and surgeons here. This country has a very high quality of life and hence the health of people is of high priority.
What is the process for obtaining a medical visa in India?
People who wish to go to Singapore as a tourist for social purposes or seeking medical treatment, and require a longer period of stay beyond the Visit Pass granted on entry into Singapore, may submit an application for extension of stay (not more than 89 days from date of entry) online using the e-Service of ICA. All extension applications must be submitted online using the e-service at least seven days prior to the expiry of the visit pass to avoid overstaying. Extension of visit will not be accepted over the counter. Every visit pass issued to any person as a tourist or for the purpose of a social visit or medical treatment shall be subjected to the condition that the holder shall not engage in any form of employment (paid or unpaid) or in any business, profession or occupation in Singapore during the validity of that pass unless he is a holder of a valid work pass issued under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. Do visit the ICA website for further information.
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Which are the best cities in Singapore for medical treatment?
Singapore is a sovereign island city in itself. So you can find many options for treatment in Singapore itself, without having to travel too much.

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