Today, the number of people surviving liver transplantation is higher than ever before and the vast majority now go on to lead an active life. This information is written for people and their families who have received a liver transplant, or who may be receiving a new liver in the future. It is a reference point for information you might need in the months and years to come, to help you live life after a liver transplant.
Transplantation is still very complex and remains a treatment rather than a cure for your condition. Because of this it is not unusual for some people to find themselves readmitted to hospital during the first year. Complications following transplantation can be caused by infections, recurrent disease such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) or cancer and problems in other parts of the body that can take several years or decades to unfold.
The powerful drugs that play such a big part in helping people survive and recover from transplantation can pose their own problems. Many of these can have side effects that affect some people more than others.
For some people, staying away from alcohol remains a major physical, social and/or psychological challenge for them to overcome.
These factors, combined with the fact the liver is such a complex and vital organ, mean that liver transplantation – from assessment to the transplant itself and your recovery period – is a unique procedure that requires a wide range of specialist health professionals to help you back to as normal a life as possible.
Although you will be required to attend follow-up clinics for the rest of your life, for most people these visits will become less regular as they get better. Follow up is normally at your transplant centre in the first year and after this, all going well, it is possible for your care to be shared with your local GP. However, you can choose to be seen at your transplant centre indefinitely.
This information is focused on the main complications that affect some people after liver transplantation. It looks at why these are thought to happen and the likely risk factors for them. If you do have problems, it is very likely you will need to keep in close contact with your transplant team and let them know when you feel something isn’t right. In addition to specialist medical care that is in place to manage complications, transplant centres will have support servicesto help you with day-to-day things. These should include liaison staff to provide advice and support to help you if you are feeling anxious or down. Similarly, if your transplant was needed either wholly or partly because of alcohol or drug issues you will certainly benefit from speaking with a substance misuse specialist who should be available to help you if you’re struggling.
There is useful advice in this section and the publicaiotn below about these things but you are encouraged to seek help from the professional services that are available to you in the first instance, including the information provided by your transplant centre. This is particularly important where you feel that some of the information appears confusing or even contradictory.
For further information please see the additonal sections below or download the publication:
Please visit the support section of our website for information on Support groups in your area or visit our Useful Links section for other organisations who may be able to offer information and support.
For full information please download the publication below:
Download current edition: Life after liver transplant publication LAL/01/08.pdf
Reviewed by: Dr David Patch, Consultant Physicican and Hepatologist at Royal Free Hospital , London; Liz Shepherd, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Royal Free Hospital, London; Kerry Webb, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.