Pregnancy Following Heart Transplantation: A Single Centre Case Series and Review of the Literature

Heart Lung Circ. 2021 Jan;30(1):144-153. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2020.10.007. Epub 2020 Nov 6.


Background: Maternal and fetal outcomes of pregnancy amongst cardiac transplant recipients are limited in the current literature.

Methods: We describe five pregnancies in three cardiac transplant recipients managed between a tertiary centre for obstetric medicine and an associated state-wide transplant centre between 2014-2018, and provide a narrative review of the literature.

Results: Pre-conception counselling was undertaken. There were no recent rejection episodes and all women demonstrated good baseline cardiac function. Median maternal age was 27 years (range 23-38 yrs.). Median time from transplantation to pregnancy was 5 years (range 2-14 yrs.). All women were managed with modified immunosuppressant regimens and multidisciplinary care. Cardiac function, tacrolimus levels and renal function were closely monitored with frequent monitoring for common complications of pregnancy. There were no maternal or fetal deaths. There was no evidence of graft rejection and no deterioration in cardiac function. Tacrolimus doses were increased to maintain therapeutic targets. Gestational diabetes occurred in three women and cholestasis of pregnancy occurred in one. Each infant was delivered by vaginal delivery. One mother had postpartum haemorrhage in both pregnancies. Pre-eclampsia did not occur. Median gestation at delivery was 37 weeks (range 35+4-40+5 days) with two preterm deliveries. One (1) infant was born with low birth weight. One (1) infant had jaundice requiring phototherapy. All infants were breastfed.

Conclusion: Pregnancy in transplant recipients confers risk to the mother and fetus. Pre-conception counselling, immunosuppressant tailoring and regular monitoring are paramount to avoid rejection and possible teratogenic complications. Favourable pregnancy outcomes are achievable with specialist multidisciplinary care.

Keywords: Cardiac disease in pregnancy; Heart transplantation; Pregnancy; Women's cardiovascular health.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Heart Transplantation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transplant Recipients*
  • Young Adult