Living with a Liver Transplant
Living with a liver transplant requires lifestyle changes and a commitment to your medical and healthcare needs. Our multidisciplinary team consists of coordinators, transplant assistants, a social worker, a pharmacist, physical and occupational therapists, a dietitian, hepatologists, transplant surgeons, nephrologists, specialty radiologist and infectious disease doctors. The transplant team works together to provide you and your caregivers with valuable care and education about living with a liver transplant.
After your liver transplant
Following a liver transplant, you will have frequently scheduled lab testing and clinic visits with your transplant team. Twice a week, you will need to have labs drawn, and our transplant team will see you in the clinic at least once a week. As you advance from your transplant surgery, your lab draws and clinic visits will become less frequent.
Each part of the multidisciplinary liver transplant team will work with you throughout your recovery and the rest of your life:
- The surgeons will monitor your incision to see how it is healing and review test results from ultrasounds and CT scans.
- The transplant coordinator, pharmacist and physician will monitor your medications and answer questions concerning lifestyle changes.
- The social worker will meet with you and your support team to assure that you are adjusting to the demands of living with a liver transplant.
- The nutritionists will be there to provide advice and counseling on dietary issues.
Your medication regimen
Being educated about your medication is part of living with a liver transplant. The transplant coordinator, pharmacist and physicians will help you and your caregivers understand and manage your new regimen.
Standard medications following a liver transplant include anti-rejection medications, antivirals and antibiotics. You will take the anti-rejection medications for the rest of your life. You might need to continue your regular medications for medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, but your team will determine if this is necessary. We stress the need for preventive health measures such as annual flu vaccines, as well as vision, skin cancer and dental evaluations.
It’s important that liver transplant patients embrace a healthy lifestyle routine after transplant surgery, including diet and exercise. A healthy lifestyle helps patients get to and maintain a healthy weight, as well as helping to prevent or manage health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Patients should follow a healthy diet such as the American Heart Association diet [Link to https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_300467.pdf]. Following a diet that is low in salt and processed foods, but high in lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and sources of calcium will promote a healthy lifestyle.
- Patients should avoid raw or undercooked meats and fish at all times. Patients should also avoid eating from buffets or salad bars due to an increased risk of infection after transplant. These food sources could potentially be contaminated.
- Patients will work with physical therapists during their recovery in the hospital after a transplant. The physical therapists will make recommendations concerning continued exercise once patients have been discharged to go home.
- Patients should check with the transplant team before beginning any new form of exercise.
- Patients will be able to do resistance training once they are stronger and have been cleared by the transplant team.
We offer a liver transplant support group that is facilitated by the social worker and other team members. This support group is for pre-transplant patients, post-transplant patients, families and caregivers. These groups address important concerns such as diet, medical management of liver disease, financial questions, transition into the transplant lifestyle, emotional support and coping mechanisms.
As patients are preparing for a liver transplant, recovering from surgery and living with a liver transplant, our professional transplant team provides support, education and compassionate care.
To learn more about liver transplant and our team and our team, contact us at 352.265.0751.