Patients with advanced heart failure, whose
condition cannot be treated by conventional
medical or surgical interventions, require
a heart transplant. At the National Heart
Centre Singapore, they are cared for by a
multidisciplinary team whose expertise gives
patients holistic care and rehabilitation.
Tan Yee Jean, Senior Perfusionist
During a heart transplant surgery, patients are placed on cardiopulmonary
bypass with a heart-lung machine. Perfusionists like Yee Jean operate
the heart-lung machine and maintain the haemodynamic status (flow of
blood) of the patient throughout the entire period of the bypass.
"Besides operating the heart-lung machine, I also tend to other
cardiac devices, such as the intra-aortic balloon pump, which aids in
the cardiac output of the transplant patient just before or after the
cessation of bypass; the cell saver, which salvages the patient’s own
whole blood; and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to provide
cardio and respiratory support in situations where the patient
cannot be weaned off from cardiopulmonary bypass."
Jael Tay, Principal Clinical Coordinator
Jael assesses each patient’s
suitability for a heart
transplant and coordinates
the procedures leading up to
and after the surgery.
"I am the main point of
contact for heart transplant
patients, and I continue
to stay in touch with them
even after their surgeries.
Besides assisting them in
their routine evaluations, I
follow up on their medication
and keep close tabs on
their daily activities. It is
important to ensure that
patients are scheduled for all
necessary appointments and
are making good progress in
Loh Peh Rong, Cardiac Technologist
As a cardiac technologist,
Peh Rong assists cardiologists
in diagnosing and treating
"Before and after each
surgery, I carry out tests
such as echocardiographic
assessments and procedures
such as cardiac biopsies to
monitor the condition of
heart disease patients. I also
review patient documentation,
schedule appointments and
monitor patients’ heart rates."
Chen Hebin, Principal Physiotherapist
After a heart transplant, patients
are sent to the Cardiothoracic
Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) for
recovery. At the CTICU, Hebin
assists patients with breathing
exercises and simple movements
to improve muscle function in
their limbs. Sitting and walking
exercises also commence early
in the CTICU to improve the
patients’ physical function.
exercise helps patients in
their recovery. Prior to their
discharge, we give tips on
how they can continue to
exercise safely and take good
care of themselves at home.
This will prepare patients for
where they can focus on
further improving their
exercise tolerance and
Pindar Yu, Senior Principal Dietitian, Singapore General Hospital
Pindar offers heart transplant patients personalised dietary advice,
evaluates their nutritional status, and works with them on their
"I usually advise patients on nutrition balance and food safety,
such as avoiding pre-cut fruits sold at fruit stalls, half-boiled or
raw eggs, and raw seafood, as these foods are potential sources of
pathogens that can cause infection. After undergoing a transplant,
patients may feel an improvement in their general well-being and
quality of life. However, I always remind them not to overeat as this
may put excessive stress on the new heart."
This story was published in the Singapore Health Special Allied Health Professionals Issue 2021.
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