Life after a liver transplant
Day of surgery
Before your procedure you will receive anesthesia and have monitoring devices placed on you. It is very likely that you will receive blood and blood products during the surgery. Your original liver will be removed and a new liver, or section of a living donor’s liver, is put in its place. The surgery typically lasts four to five hours.
After surgery, you will recover in the hospital for a few days, the first day or two in the intensive care unit (ICU). You will have a breathing tube in place for 24 hours. You will likely be eating and drinking by day two or three. You will also be expected to walk early on the recovery process and use tools to help expand your lungs to prevent complications from surgery.
Patients often stay in the hospital for five to eight days.
After your liver transplant you will have visits with an educator, pharmacist, social worker, and dietician while recovering in the hospital. Your caregiver will join each of those meetings.
You will come back to the transplant clinic for regular visits and blood draws early on and less overtime.
Routine after liver transplant
Weightlifting restrictions for several weeks
Staying active to recover
Logging your vital signs and fluids (intake and output)
Rejection is your body’s attempt to fight off the new liver. It can happen at any time and without symptoms. That does not mean you are losing the transplant. Your medical team will likely see signs of rejection in your bloodwork before you have symptoms. That is why it is so important to get your lab tests done after transplantation.
You can help prevent rejection or help detect it early by always taking your medication as prescribed and getting labs drawn on time.
The anti-rejection medication you take to prevent rejection lowers your immune system. The medication starts when you are hospitalized and is continued for the life of your transplant. Lowering your immune system can cause infections, certain types of cancer, and other side effects.
You may be prescribed a list of medication to prevent problems related to your liver transplant. These may include:
- Immunosuppression medication
Always check with your care team before you start a new medication. It is possible they could affect your immunosuppression medications.