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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A liver transplant is surgery to remove part or all of your liver and replace it with a healthy, donor liver. Your liver normally helps to remove waste products from your blood and helps with blood clotting. A donor liver may come from someone who has died, or from a living person.
- Antirejection medicine: These help prevent your body from rejecting your new liver. You may need to take this medicine for the rest of your life.
- Steroid medicine: Steroids may be given to stop your body from rejecting your new liver. Steroids can also help decrease inflammation.
- Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
- Proton pump inhibitor medicine: These prevent an ulcer by decreasing the amount of acid that your stomach makes.
- Antimicrobial medicines: These help prevent a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection.
- Immune globulin: This medicine may be given if you have viral hepatitis. The medicine may help decrease your risk that the virus will infect your new liver.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your hepatologist or transplant surgeon as directed:
You may need to return for tests and ongoing care. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Follow your primary healthcare provider's instructions about how to care for your wounds at home.
You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
Prevent blood clots:
- Pressure stockings: These are long, tight stockings that put pressure on your legs to promote blood flow and prevent clots.
- Exercise: Walking helps prevent blood from pooling in your legs and causing clots to form inside your veins. Ask your primary healthcare provider which exercises are best for you. Ask how much to exercise each day, and when to start.
- Do not drink alcohol: Alcohol can damage your new liver. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
- Maintain a healthy weight: This may help to decrease your risk of liver problems after your transplant. Ask how much you should weigh. Ask for help to create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Eat healthy foods: This may help improve energy and help you heal faster. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet after your liver transplant.
- Protect your skin: After a transplant you have an increased risk for skin cancer. Your medicines may also increase your risk for sunburn. Use sun block with a SPF of 40 or higher. Have a yearly exam to check your skin.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking is harmful to your health. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
You may need to get vaccination shots after your transplant to help protect you from hepatitis A or hepatitis B infection. You may also need an influenza (flu) shot every year. The best time to get a flu shot is in October or November. Ask about these and other vaccinations you may need.
Caregivers may visit you in your home to help you with your recovery and medicines.
Pregnancy and birth control:
If you want to become pregnant, wait for at least 2 years after your liver transplant. This increases your chance of a safe pregnancy. Talk to your primary healthcare provider or hepatologist about birth control for the 2 years following your transplant surgery.
For support and more information:
- American Liver Foundation
39 Broadway Suite 2700
New York , New York 10006
Phone: 1- 212 - 668-1000
Phone: 1- 800 - 465-4837
Web Address: http://www.liverfoundation.org
Contact your hepatologist or transplant surgeon if:
- You feel weak or get tired easily.
- You have a fever.
- You have new headaches or shakiness.
- You have pain or tenderness in your upper abdomen or in wound areas.
- Your legs begin to swell.
- Your skin is itchy or has a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You are urinating less than usual, or not at all.
- You have a high fever and shaking chills.
- You have black, tarry bowel movements, or you vomit blood.
- You have new yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
- Your abdomen becomes swollen.
- Your wound areas are swollen, red, or have pus coming from them.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
- You have weakness in an arm or leg, or any part of your body.
- You become confused, have difficulty speaking, or have a seizure.
- You have dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.