“Congratulations on successfully going through your liver transplant. It was surely not one of the easier journeys in your life, but you can rest assured that the AALC Liver Transplant Team will be walking along with you and your family throughout this recovery.” said Dr Tan Kai Chah.
After a liver transplantation, patients will restore their normal and healthy quality of life just like before they got sick. Some patients have even returned to become a professional football player after a liver transplant. Some have even competed in the Olympics after a liver transplant.
Most patients can return to work after three months. During this period, patients will learn how to take proper care of themselves and adapt to the new lifestyle changes with the help of the Transplant Team.
Recovery and Aftercare
One of the most important responsibilities patients will have after the transplant is taking their medication as prescribed. The success of the transplant is dependent on a patient who took their medications regularly and as advised.
It is important for patients to learn about their medications before they leave the hospital:
- The name of the medications that they are taking
- The dosages or quantity
- When and how often to take in a day
- Why is he/she taking the medications
- Possible side effects to look out for
Liver Transplant recipients must take the anti-rejection medications* for the rest of their life.
* Anti-rejection medications or immunosuppressant are medications that help prevent the body from rejecting the new liver.
Diet and Nutrition
A healthy and balanced diet is an essential part of a patient’s recovery after liver transplantation. A patient needs the necessary nutrients to help with wound healing, to fight and prevent infection. A dietician will advise the patient before they are discharged on how to maintain a healthy and balanced diet which consists of a variety of foods.
Instructions on minimising risk of food-borne disease:
- Wash hands before and after handling food
- Avoid raw or partially cooked food, especially meat, shellfish, seafood and eggs
- Wash all fruits and vegetables before cooking and eating them
- Avoid eating from salad bars, buffets or other shared dishes due to possible contamination by others and unsafe food temperatures
- Avoid unpasteurized milk and cheese
- Lower salt and sugar intake
- Try to drink about two litres of boiled water daily
- Avoid foods that may be prepared in unclean environments
Routine Activities and Exercise
Exercise and physical activity should be a regular part of patient life after a liver transplant to continue improving their overall physical and mental health.
A physical therapist will teach and help the patient to exercise to recover and avoid complications. After the transplant, the patient should start walking as much as they can. Then, depending on progress, the patient can start incorporating more physical activity into their daily life.
Be sure to check in with your transplant team before starting or changing your post-transplant exercise routine.
Patients should practice caution on some of the routine activities like avoiding contact with pet faeces and urine as it contains microorganisms that can cause serious infections. Always wash your hands after touching your pet.
You may resume sexual activity as soon as you feel well enough. The majority of men regain their potency and most women find that their menstrual cycle returns to normal a few months after the operation.
When to Contact the Doctor?
A major concern after a transplant surgery is the risk of organ rejection. Rejection happens when the patient’s body stops accepting the new liver. When this happens, the patient’s immune system “attacks” the new organ, as if it doesn’t belong in the body. This triggers the patient’s body to make white blood cells and antibodies which harm the new liver. If signs of rejection are detected and treated early, the condition can be reversed.
Sign of Rejection:
- Dark tea coloured urine
- Jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes)
- Pale or clay coloured stools
- Chills, aches and unexpected tiredness
A patient who undergoes liver transplantation has an increased susceptibility to infections due to the anti-rejection medications. We advise patients to practice good personal hygiene, avoid improperly cooked food and avoid close contact with persons with an active infection. The patient should seek early medical attention in case of any new symptoms.
Sign of Infection:
- Unexplained tiredness (fatigue)
- Redness or White spots on tongue or mouth
- Incision or wound redness, swelling, cloudy or foul-smelling discharge
- A persistent cough with or without shortness of breath
- Flu-like symptoms
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
Download our guidebook on “Life After Liver Transplant” for more information and tips on taking care of the new liver.
Learn more about our Liver Transplant Program:
- Liver Transplant Procedure
- Living Donor Liver Transplantation (LDLT) Program at AALC
- Liver Transplant Survival Rate at AALC