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Life After Liver Transplant

How long will my liver transplant last?

Liver transplant can have excellent outcomes. Recipients have been known to live a normal life over 30 years after the operation.

According to the most recent studies

Five-year graft and patient survivals 81%

10 year- 65

15 year 50%

Transplant recipients directly contribute to the success of their transplant. Failure to comply with the immunosuppression medical regimen is the number one cause of organ failure. Close follow-up with your transplant team and primary-care physician can help ensure a good outcome. Careful attention to medication schedules, lifestyle changes, infection-avoidance techniques are all important ways to prolong one's life after transplantation.

What can I expect my quality of life to be after liver transplantation?

The first three months following transplantation are the most difficult. The body is adjusting to the "new" liver and all the medications needed to maintain its health. By the time of discharge from the hospital patients are able to care for themselves, with some minor restrictions. The transplant team carefully prepares each patient for discharge. Most patients can return to work within 3 months after a transplant. Playing sports and getting healthy exercise, socializing, and traveling for business and pleasure are all possible. We expect that people who undergo liver transplantation can and do go on to lead "normal" lives.

Will my liver disease come back after a transplant?

Certain liver diseases can reappear in the new liver. One example is hepatitis C. The transplant team can advise you on the incidence of recurrence of specific liver ailments. In cases where there is a risk of recurrence the transplant team will monitor you very closely to help prevent recurrence.

How long is the recuperation period?

Most patients are hospitalized for 2-3 weeks after liver transplant. Afterwards, they generally recuperate at home and typically return to work or school after about 3 months.

Will I need to take medications after my liver transplant?

Patients must take many medications after a liver transplant:

some to prevent rejection (immunosuppressants),

some to fight infection,

Patients returning home after transplantation will be taking approximately 7 to 10 different type of medicines. As the patient heals and recovers health with the help of their new liver, dosages and number of medications are reduced over time.

By 3 months, it is common to be down to 1 or 2 medications. However, patients will be taking immunosuppression medications for the rest of their lives in virtually all cases. It is vital that these medications are taken as prescribed, in the proper amounts and at the specified times. Missing medication doses or discontinuing them on one's own can lead to rejection and organ failure.

What side effects can be expected from the medications prescribed after transplant?

Many medications have side effects. Side effects typical with post-transplant medications include: elevated blood pressure, changes in mood, elevated blood sugar, bone and muscle weakness. Most patients will experience side effects initially, but these often diminish over time as dosages are reduced.

Although side effects can be troublesome, medications should never be discontinued without the knowledge and agreement of the transplant team. When side effects are severe, the array of medicines can often be adjusted to improve their tolerance.

Can I return to work after my transplant?

Yes, patients are encouraged to return to work after transplantation. It customarily takes around 3 months before returning to work is feasible. Certain patients will require light-duty assignments temporarily as they reacclimate to the workplace. Unless there are complications, disability is usually not granted for more than six months after a liver transplant, because the disabling disease has been treated. From the start of the transplant process, patients should consider their long-term employment goals so that they can rejoin the workforce in a timely manner and avoid lapse in health insurance coverage.

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