What happens during the recovery period after liver transplantation in the intensive care unit and nursing unit in the hospital?
Initially when the patient is in the intensive care unit, we closely monitor the patient’s bodily functions, including the liver function, very carefully. Once the patient has been transferred to the floor nursing unit, we decrease the frequency of blood testing, allowing eating, and initiate physical therapy and activity to help regain muscle strength. Some of the medicines to prevent rejection are initially given intravenously or by vein, but others are given by mouth immediately and eventually all medications are given by mouth. During the first six weeks after liver transplantation, we will request that the patient have frequent blood tests and other exams to monitor liver function and detect any evidence of rejection or infection in the new liver.
How can individuals donate their organs?
If you wish to be an organ donor, carry an organ donor card and place an organ donor sticker on your medical identification card. It is important to discuss organ donation with family members since they will have to give consent for the donation.
Do individuals who have received a transplanted liver have to take medicines to treat or prevent rejection for the rest of their lives?
Yes, in general that is true, although every patient who has been involved with liver transplantation has often heard of that special case of someone who was able to stop the medication. Importantly, almost all patients who have to take these medicines long term can also undergo dose reduction as the body adjusts to the transplanted liver and the amount of medicine needed to control or prevent rejection is reduced.