The Transplant Procedure
Your old liver is removed during the procedure and replaced with the transplanted liver (a whole organ or a portion of the liver in a living donor surgery). The entire operation usually takes 4-6 hours but can take up to 10 hours.
After the Transplant
A new life with a transplanted organ begins in the hospital, right after the transplant operation. The average hospital stay for a liver transplant recipient is less than two weeks, with a stay of two to five days in the intensive care unit.
During the hospital stay, transplant recipients are carefully monitored and tested. Patients also receive extensive training on self-care at home and the drugs needed to protect the transplanted organ from rejection (called immunosuppressants).
Re-operations following liver transplants are not uncommon (most of them are short). Bleeding, bile leaks and infections are the most commons reasons for surgery.
Receiving a liver transplant is a life-altering operation with potentially great benefits. But receiving a transplant also means a lifetime of medication, frequent follow-up visits and ongoing monitoring by doctors and nurses at UVA.
After Leaving the Hospital
After leaving the hospital, patients will need to check their own vital signs daily (temperature, weight, blood pressure and pulse) and take prescribed medications. Transplant recipients also complete regularly scheduled routine lab tests (at a laboratory convenient to home).
Routine follow-up appointments are scheduled after a transplant. Although the patient and transplant team jointly remain focused on the good health of the patient, the patient now holds the key to success. Faithful adherence to medications and lab tests along with annual reviews at our clinic give the greatest level of assurance that the transplanted liver will continue to function.