Outcomes in cardiac transplantation have improved during the past 30 years because of advances made in medicine and surgery. Patients referred for cardiac transplantation are examined through a rigorous evaluation process that involves a multidisciplinary approach to determine candidacy. The list for candidates awaiting transplantation has grown more rapidly than the donor pool, resulting in a need to expand the criteria for donors. Some centers now extend criteria to include older donors, those with prolonged periods of ischemia, donor-recipient mismatches, and donors requiring bypass surgery. Long-term outcomes from the expanded donor pool are under evaluation. Studies are currently in progress to explore inducing tolerance through bone marrow infusion and rejection detection with the use of a pacemaker. Future alternatives to transplantation include the left ventricular assist device as a bridge to recovery, xenotransplantation, and the totally artificial heart.

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