Post Liver Transplant Process
Although the hospitalization is
relatively short following liver transplantation, our physicians and
staff continue to monitor recent liver recipients very closely in the
clinic. Patients enjoy the comfort of home as they recover, yet still
receive the medical attention they need at our clinic.
Clinic visits are scheduled weekly or
twice-weekly during the early period after transplant, and the time
between visits will be increased according to the patient's needs.
Patients from outside the Greater Houston area should plan to stay in
Houston for 4 to 6 weeks after transplant to ensure that this close
follow-up is possible.
The goal of liver transplantation is to
return patients to a full, satisfying quality of life. This return to
normal function may take months after liver transplantation, depending
on the severity of liver disease before transplantation.
Many patients go back to school, work,
and activities they enjoyed prior to developing significant liver
disease. Patients are able to exercise and participate in sports.
Women and men are able to have children,
but it is recommended that women inform the Transplant Center months
prior to trying to conceive that they want to have a baby. The
Transplant Center will inform the woman if she is healthy enough to
carry the baby safely. Some of the immunosuppressive medications will
have to be adjusted because they could hurt the baby.
Many people find that they easily gain weight after transplant. This is partially because of the immunosuppression drug regimen and also because after transplant patients feel better, and therefore have a better appetite.
Patients with significant fluid weight as
a result of ascites or other fluid retention may lose a significant
amount of weight in the months after transplant. The Transplant Center
has a dietician that councils the patients on proper diet and exercise
and encourages a healthy active lifestyle that involves no tobacco,
illegal drug, or alcohol use. This should help extend the life of the
liver and the patient.
Patients will be followed very closely in
clinic during the first few months after transplant to monitor the
function of the transplanted liver and to ensure that the recovery
process is continuing normally. Clinic visits will become less frequent
according to the patient's needs.
The doctors involved with the patient's
care prior to transplantation will remain involved to help provide the
best care possible for the liver recipient and to make sure that routine
health maintenance strategies (like pap smears and colonoscopies) are
Transplantation can sometimes seem
overwhelming for patients. The Transplant Center offers a transplant
support group that is run by our transplant social workers. The support
group meets monthly and encompasses patients who are both waiting for a
transplant and those who have already received a transplant.
Every other month, a guest speaker is
invited to talk about a topic of interest to the group. In between, the
support group functions in a more traditional way where patients share
their experiences, provide insightful help and recommendations, ask
questions, and form relationships with other patients going through
similar issues. Adult family members, friends, and caregivers are
welcome and encouraged to come with the patient.