Taking care of yourself and your transplanted liver requires a lifetime commitment. At Beaumont, we want to help you with that commitment as you continue to live your life to the fullest.
The following are some commonly asked questions about life after receiving a liver transplant:
Will I be cured if I have a liver transplant?
While a liver transplant may allow you to have a better quality of life, and in some cases is the most definitive therapy for underlying liver diseases like primary sclerosing cholangitis and liver tumors such as hepatocellular carcinoma, it is not a cure. It is an ongoing treatment that requires a lifetime commitment on your part. Your Beaumont Transplant Team will educate and support you and your family so that you may accomplish this.
What special care should I take after surgery?
Your body's natural response is to recognize your new liver as a foreign object. Anti-rejection medications (immunosuppressants) help convince your body to accept the liver transplant as your own. You will be required to be on these medications for the rest of your life.
Immunosuppressant medications do lower your body's natural immune system, so you will be more prone to infection. Some suggestions for preventing infection are:
- Frequent handwashing, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after contact with individuals who might be sick.
- Avoid people who have colds, flu or other infections.
- Get the flu vaccine early in the flu season.
- Avoid eating undercooked meats or seafood.
- Avoid cleaning litter boxes, bird cages, and reptile cages
You should also be following up with your primary care doctors regularly to ensure that all your normal health maintenance exams are up to date. These generally include:
- Mammograms and pap smears (for women)
- PSA (for males)
- Colonoscopy as directed by your PCP and gastroenterologist
- Annual dermatology evaluation
- Regular dental examinations
You can refer to our “Life After Transplant: What You Need to Know” booklet under “Patient Resources” for more information.
When can I get back to normal activities?
You will be monitored closely by the Transplant Team after your liver transplant for the duration of the life of your transplant. This will include weekly clinic visits and blood work for labs twice per week for the first few months, but as your condition improves, the frequency of clinic appointments and lab work will decrease. Each person's recovery is different, but you should see improvement in your overall condition each week. The stronger you are before your transplant operation, the smoother your recovery will be after undergoing transplant. Our goal is to help you return to your normal lifestyle.
Who can I contact at Beaumont when I have questions?
You may have many questions after your transplant. Your transplant nurse coordinator will be your main contact with the Beaumont Transplant Team. Our transplant nurses specialize in transplantation and are experienced at addressing complicated and difficult issues that may arise during the transplant process. The nurse coordinators are also in constant communication with our experienced multidisciplinary team, including the transplant surgeons and hepatologists, to ensure all patient questions and concerns are handled appropriately.