There are many challenges you have to overcome after a liver transplant surgery, especially facing possible complications and returning to normal life. If you don’t have appropriate observation and care, it’s very dangerous for the transplanted organ and your overall health. So, what should you and your family have to do after a liver transplant?
You need to follow the doctor’s instructions to avoid complications
After your liver transplant, your body’s immune system will recognize your transplanted organ as a foreign object and attempt to protect you by rejecting it. That’s the reason which leads to the complications, such as:
- Bleeding: There is a small risk of bleeding at the anastomosis, the place where the blood vessels from donor and recipient were sewn together.
- Hepatic artery thrombosis: If there is a clot formed in the hepatic artery, it can cause the liver to malfunction.
- Bile duct leaks: The connection between the new liver and a bile duct or position of intestine may leak. That can drain the bile into the abdominal cavity and cause
- Rejection: Your body will develop immune cells to attack your new liver because it recognizes the liver as foreign
- Infection: After transplantation, you are at higher risk for developing certain infections because your immune system is suppressed by medications, especially if you don’t protect the area of your surgery carefully.
- Hepatitis recurrence: It is possible for a recurrence to happen, especially in cases of hepatitis B or C virus infection after transplantation.
To avoid the risk of complication, you have to follow the doctor’s medications and come to the hospital for checkups periodically. Furthermore, contact your doctor whenever any sign of complications happens.
You have to manage your expectations
Before choosing a treatment, your doctor might have discussed with you what the treatment involves and how it will affect you. By then, you should prepare yourself mentally for what to come after the surgery:
- You might need to stay in the hospital for a few days, most cases stay for 5-10 days, after a liver transplant. Your health signs will be monitor closely and watch your condition watch out for symptoms of complication. It is also easier for the staff to run tests to make sure your liver is working normally. Once you’re stable, you can move out of the hospital or move to a transplant recovery area to continue recuperating.
- When you get home, you will still need to visit the hospital frequently for a checkup. The tests might be intense at first but gradually the number of tests will decrease.
- You might have to take medication for the rest of your life to prevent your immune system from attacking your new liver. You might get immunosuppressants, but that means your immune system is weakened and you are more prone to other condition especially infection. Fortunately, there are other drugs to help reduce the risk of other complications after your transplant.
You need to restrict some of your activities
After coming home from liver transplant surgery, you have to protect the surgery area for preventing it from infection and other complications. So, to return to a normal and active life, you have to remember a few restrictions.
- Don’t lift more than 2 kg for the first six weeks and more than 9 kg for the first three months after your surgery.
- Avoid activities which pull your stomach muscles around your surgical area like mopping or vacuuming for 3 months.
- Taking showers is better than having baths, at least for the first 6 months.
- Don’t jog or run on hard surfaces such as cement or asphalt for 6 months.
- Don’t join in rough physical activities like horseback riding or motorcycle riding for 1 year.
- Don’t drive for a month after transplant or at any time if you are taking any pain medication.
- Limit fat consumption and sodium (salt) in your diet.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol.
The more you take care of yourself, the faster you regain your strength. Don’t forget to keep your mind positive and happy. Although you might not notice the effect of taking proper self-care at first, the result will show if you have patience.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: September 20, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
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Liver Transplant. http://www.vanderbilthealth.com/transplant/10786. Accessed September 20, 2016.
Liver Transplant – What You Can Expect. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/liver-transplant/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20014076. Accessed September 20, 2016.
Life after Liver Transplant. http://www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/liver-information/life-after-liver-transplant/. Accessed September 20, 2016.