There is a shortage of donors. You may be on a transplant list for some time. You may need to carry a cell phone with you at all times. This is to allow the transplant team to reach you if a liver becomes available.
An incision shaped like a boomerang will be made on the upper part of the abdomen. The old liver will be removed. Portions of major blood vessels will be left in place. The new liver will be inserted and attached to the blood vessels and bile ducts. To help with bile drainage, a tube will also be inserted into the bile duct during surgery. The area will be closed with stitches.
While you are recovering at the hospital, you will:
Receive fluids and nutrition through an IV—You will slowly transition to eating.
Breathe deeply and cough 10-20 times every hour—This will help your lungs work better after surgery.
Take immunosuppressive drugs—You will need to take these for the rest of your life. These drugs reduce the chance that your body will reject the new liver. They also have potential side effects, like infection and cancer. Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Take proper care of the incision site. This will help to prevent an infection.
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
Work with a physical therapist. Exercises will help you to regain strength.
Monitor your temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and weight.
Follow a special diet. This diet will help to prevent water retention and to maintain a normal weight and blood pressure.
Take medications as advised by your doctor.
Recovery time varies. It depends, in part, on your health before the transplant.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.