Follow-Up Care for Liver Transplant Surgery
You will need to return to Duke frequently for outpatient tests and Liver Transplant Clinic visits during the first month after your surgery. At every follow-up visit, you will meet with members of your transplant team and undergo testing to see how well you’re healing, monitor any medication side effects, and look for signs of rejection.
Your schedule will depend on your progress and concerns. If you live more than an hour’s drive away from Duke, you will need to find temporary lodging for the first month after transplant, when you will visit Duke two to three times per week. Over time, these visits will occur less often, but you will still need to return to Duke for follow-up appointments once or twice a year.
Preventing Liver Transplant Rejection
Rejection occurs when your body’s immune system begins attacking the new liver. In most cases it can be reversed if detected early. That’s why it is important for you to be on the lookout for signs of rejection, including fever, yellowing of the eyes and skin, and fatigue.
The risk of rejection is highest during first few months after transplant, but because it can occur any time, you will need to take at least one immunosuppression drug for the rest of your life. You will also have frequent blood work to check your liver function and levels of immunosuppression medicine. If your liver function levels are abnormal, you may need a liver biopsy to check for rejection. Episodes of rejection are usually treated with an IV steroid and sometimes a second anti-rejection drug. Your normal immunosuppression medicines may also be adjusted.