The patient is closely monitored after the operation, usually remaining in Intensive Care for about a week and in the hospital for an additional week or two.
The first year after a transplant is critical, with the rejection of the new organ being the principle post-operative danger. Accordingly, many medications which suppress the body's immune response are prescribed. These will need to be taken for the rest of the patient's life.
A patient recovering from a heart transplant may benefit from participation in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Exercise helps to strengthen the heart and the patient may look forward to a fairly normal lifestyle after full recovery from surgery, though extreme physical exertion should be avoided.
In older children and adults, 80% of patients live at least 2 years after surgery and, if the body's tendency to reject the organ is held in check, survival of 10 years or more may be expected. In neonates, the survival after transplant is much better. Infant transplants have less episodes of rejection with many children now living decades after a neonatal transplant.