A liver transplant is considered when the liver no longer functions adequately (end-stage liver disease). Two common indications for a liver transplant are liver cirrhosis of different aetiologies and acute liver failure. Recovery from a liver transplant can be a long process, but most patients will eventually be able to return to normal activities and have a good quality of life. Today, in this article, we will look at some of the health challenges that one may face post-liver transplant. We will also seek some knowledge from the experts about how a patient should take care of his lifestyle (diet, exercise, drinking habits, smoking habits, etc) post a successful liver transplant surgery.
What Is a Liver Transplant?
A liver transplant is a surgery that removes a liver that no longer functions properly (this condition is mainly known as acute liver failure) and replaces it with a healthy liver from a deceased donor or a portion of a healthy liver from a living donor. The surgery is important as the liver plays a very important role in our body. It performs several critical functions, including — processing nutrients that helps in absorbing fats, cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins, preventing blood clotting, removing toxins from the blood, preventing infection and regulating the immune responses.
However, it is not just about the surgery being successful, one also needs to take proper care post-surgery to help the body get back to normalcy. We spoke to some experts about the same and below are the tips they have suggested.
Post-Liver Transplant Infection Prevention Tips
Post-liver transplant patients are highly susceptible to various bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections in the initial 3–6 month period. Here are some care one should take:
When patients come back home after liver transplantation, the house should be thoroughly cleaned, and only freshly washed clothes should be worn daily.
Patients should wear masks for the first 3 months while going to crowded places such as malls, cinemas, restaurants, and department stores.
Washing hands is an easy way to avoid infections.
Post-transplant, a normal, balanced, high-protein diet will help with early recovery.
Drinking water must be safe, and tap water should be avoided without home filtration.
Raw foods and salads must be avoided for the first 3 months to prevent infections.
Alcohol and smoking should be avoided.
Exercise and Driving
Apart from the right diet, one should also keep a close check on an exercise routine, here are some tips to follow:
Post-liver transplant, perform deep breathing exercises to expand the lungs.
The exercise starts with gentle activities such as walking and gradually increases in intensity.
Avoid lifting heavy weights (more than 5 kg), sports, and swimming for several months until you have fully recovered.
Post-transplant patients need to avoid driving for up to 2–3 months because of the transplant procedure and immunosuppressant medications that can affect their vision, reaction time, and ability to perform emergency stops.
Medications: Post-liver transplant patients will need immunosuppressant medications regularly to prevent damage to the newly transplanted liver (rejection). For the first 2–3 months, patients also need prophylactic medications to prevent various infections. Never stop taking medications without consulting your primary care physician first.
If patients develop fever, abdominal pain, jaundice, diarrhoea, body itching, or vomiting, they should contact a transplant physician/surgeon immediately and be treated as soon as possible.