Liver Transplant Surgery Recovery and Aftercare
After liver transplant surgery, you will have a long recovery period ahead of you. Just know that you will start feeling better and stronger soon.
Making sure your body accepts the new liver is very important to your success and recovery. You should plan to stay near UPMC in Pittsburgh after your liver transplant surgery. You'll need to visit the clinic often for post-transplant surgery aftercare. Your transplant team will let you know when you can return home.
You must also have a caregiver with you at all times during these first few months. You and your caregiver can arrange to stay at Family House near the hospital until you're ready to return home. Family House is not a medical facility.
Helping Prevent Liver Rejection After Transplant
The first few months after liver transplant surgery are when you have the highest risk for infection or liver rejection. That's why it's very important to stay close to UPMC after your liver transplant for ost-op support.
As soon as you come out of liver transplant surgery, you will begin taking medication to suppress your body's immune system. Your body will want to view the new liver as an enemy and begin its natural defenses to fight — or reject — the organ. These immunosuppression medicines lessen your body's "fight" response to give the new liver a chance to work.
You will continue to take the antirejection drugs you received in the hospital for the rest of your life. Your doctor will continuously monitor how you respond and make adjustments.
At first, you will have frequent follow-up visits so the liver transplant team can make sure you are healing properly as well as to monitor your ongoing improvement. Initially, you will be seen 1 to 2 times a week and then as per your transplant team. It is very important that you come to all your follow-up appointments as instructed.
During your follow-up appointments, you will:
- Have blood work completed
- Meet with your transplant coordinator
- Consult with transplant surgeon or transplant hepatologist
- Complete additional testing as indicated
This allows the liver transplant team to diagnose and treat any problems right away, to make sure that:
- Your new liver is working properly.
- Your body is responding well to the new medicines.
Help at Home After Liver Transplant Surgery
You must have a caregiver with you 24 hours a day for at least 6 weeks after you leave the hospital.
Being a caregiver is a big responsibility. You may need more than one person to help you for the first few months after your liver transplant.
You will not be able to drive for 6-8 weeks after your liver transplant, so your caregiver will need to bring you to all follow-up appointments.
Life After Liver Transplant
Your liver transplant care team at UPMC will give you a detailed, personalized guide on caring for yourself at home. Make sure you and your caregiver fully understand every part of it.
Always be looking for signs of infection or rejection, and call us if you have any questions or concerns.
Your recovery will depend on your health before liver transplant and how dedicated you remain to your care plan.
To make the most of your new liver, it is important to follow your treatment plan and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Follow these tips to help you heal and stay healthy:
- Take all medicines on time as prescribed. You will take many of these medicines for the rest of your life. Ask a nurse, pharmacist, or your transplant coordinator if you have any questions about your medicines.
- Stick with the healthy lifestyle changes the UPMC liver transplant team gave you before your transplant.
- Follow the personalized meal and diet plan that your nutritionist gave you when you left the hospital.
- Eat healthy and avoid alcohol to achieve the fullest life with your new liver. In general, limit salty or sugary foods and eat lean sources of protein.
- Achieve the weight and exercise goals in your post-liver-transplant care plan. Try to exercise at least a few days a week as you heal. Stay active to avoid weight gain and reduce your risk of stroke or heart attack.
If you have any questions about caring for yourself at home, call us. We value our responsibility as your transplant team and are a resource to you for the rest of your life. Do not hesitate to call the Liver Transplant office at 412-647-5800 or toll free at 1-877-640-6758.