Post-Transplant Care

The patient is transferred to intensive care unit after surgery where very careful monitoring of all body functions is done. Once the patient stabilizes he is shifted to ward, eating is allowed and physiotherapy is prescribed to regain muscle strength. The drug or drugs to prevent rejection are given by mouth & frequent tests are done to monitor liver function and detect any evidence of rejection.

The average hospital stay after liver transplant is two weeks to three weeks. Some patients may be discharged in less time, while others may be in the hospital much longer, depending on how the new liver is working and on complications that may arise.

What is rejection?

When the liver is transplanted from one person (the donor) into another (the recipient), the immune system of the recipient triggers the same response against the new organ that it would have against any foreign material, setting off a chain of events that can damage the transplanted organ. The immune system cannot distinguish between the transplanted liver and unwanted invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. This process is called rejection. It can occur rapidly (acute rejection), or over a long period of time (chronic rejection). Rejection can occur despite close matching of the donated organ and the transplant patient. About 70% of all liver-transplant patients have some degree of organ rejection prior to discharge. Anti-rejection medications are given to ward off the immune attack.

How is rejection prevented?

After a liver transplant, the patient will receive medications called immunosuppressants. Immunosuppressants are the drugs that weaken the immune system's ability to reject newly transplanted liver. They greatly decrease the risks of rejection, protecting the new organ and preserving its function. A wide variety of these drugs are available with differing mechanisms of action. They may include Steroids, Cyclosporine, Tacrolimus, Sirolimus, and Mycophenolate mofetil. One or more of these drugs must be taken exactly as prescribed by your physician for the rest of your life.