It is a wonderful feeling to know that your child has a new healthy liver. But you are not out of the woods yet. You still need to make sure your child’s body adjusts well to the new liver and there are no other complications. This means that there will be some changes your child’s. You should sit down with your child to tell them about these changes.
Your child’s body will go through some physical changes. Going through surgery, especially a liver transplant can put a lot of stress on your child’s body. It is important for your child to take it easy for the next few months. This means making sure your child gets plenty of rest and energy-rich nutrients from a healthy diet. To prevent muscle loss and ensure proper healing, your child’s diet should include enough protein, calories, vitamins, and minerals. If your child feels full during each meal, you may need to give smaller meals 6 times a day instead of 3 big meals. Let your doctor know if your child has any nausea or vomiting, poor appetite or any abnormal bowel movements.
In addition to the stress of surgery, the immunosuppressive drugs the doctor prescribed can cause many unwanted side effects. Some side effects may affect the following areas:
- Skin: Some drugs can cause acne and dry skin. Make sure to wash your child’s face at least twice a day. is cleaning
- Mood: You may see your child become more upset. Let your child and people around you know that it may be a side effect of the drugs. Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings.
- Trouble sleeping: Your child may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This will make your child more tired. Try to have he or she takes naps during the day.
- Mouth: Your child’s gums may bleed easily and the teeth may be more sensitive to hot and cold drinks. It is recommended to brush at least twice a day. If you have any concerns you should take your child to see the dentist.
- Hair: The hair strands may become weak and can break easily. Make sure to brush the hair gently. Avoid dying or perming your child’s hair.
- Weight gain: There are some drugs that can increase blood sugar and cause weight gain such as the steroid drug called prednisone. You should let the doctor know if you see signs of diabetes and consistently elevated blood sugar.
- High blood pressure: There are some drugs that can increase blood pressure. Make sure to not have too much salt in the diet. Salt can contribute the high blood.
Besides the mood changes caused by the immunosuppressive drugs, your child will go through other emotional changes caused by the liver transplant. Your child may not understand why his or her body is going through all these changes or why you won’t let him or her go out and play with friends. This best way to handle this is to be open and honest with your child. Depending on your child’s age, you can try to explain how having a new liver will take the time to heal and adjust to a normal life. Have them understand that the reason they have to take their medication regularly, even when there are side effects, is to prevent their body from attacking the new liver. You can use pictures and simple words to help with your explanations.
Encourage your child to ask questions and share their feelings. It can be helpful to understand what your child is thinking. Comfort them and make them feel safe and secure. When they know what changes to expect in their life, they will be able to manage their emotions better.
Social changes are hard to avoid. In order to keep your child safe, you will need to avoid crowded areas for the first few months to a year. Places such as theaters, supermarkets, shopping malls, and buses will increase your child risk of getting an infection. Remember your child’s immune system is weak right now. You should do what you can to make sure your child doesn’t get sick.
This may mean that your child will not be able to go on field trips at school, have sleepovers with friends, or go to the theater to watch a movie. Let you child know that this change may be temporary but will last for at least a year. The chances of any infection dramatically decrease after the first. While your child is on immunosuppresive drugs, the immune system will be weaker than others.
Changes your child’s life are hard to avoid after a liver transplant. The best way to manage the change is to know what will happen. Leaving your child in the dark will make it harder for your child to adapt to the changes.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: September 18, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Pediatric liver disease: Life after transplant. https://www.starship.org.nz/media/181948/parentsguidebookfinal_suitable_for_email.pdf. Accessed September 18, 2016.
After your child’s liver transplant. https://www.phoenixchildrens.org/sites/default/files/health-information/the-emily-center/child-health-topics/handouts/After%20Liver%20Transplant%201395.pdf. Accessed September 18, 2016.