For most people, liver transplant surgery is a life-saving procedure. It involves removing part or all of the diseased liver and replacing it with a healthy one.
We've outlined how a liver transplant procedure works and what to expect so you can prepare for surgery.
Your UPMC transplant coordinator will call you when a donor liver becomes available. We will provide you with directions for where you are to report when you arrive at the hospital.
If you're able to find a living donor for liver transplant, you have flexibility in scheduling the surgery.
Before coming to the hospital for your liver transplant:
If you need to contact someone immediately, call the Abdominal Transplant Coordinator at 412-647-5800.
When you arrive at UPMC, you will be admitted to a patient room where you will:
The duration of liver transplant surgery depends on how complex your case is. On average, the surgery can take between 6-12 hours.
During a liver transplant, your surgeon will:
Your coordinator or surgeon will be able to provide more details about your specific surgery.
UPMC's team of liver transplant experts performs many complex liver transplant operations. We're equipped to handle the risks of surgery and address any complications.
We also offer “bloodless” surgery for patients who meet strict health requirements. Bloodless medicine means we do not use banked blood products during the operation.
Although many liver transplants occur with little to no problems, there are some risks including:
These complications can lead to:
UPMC uses innovative surgical methods and medications to help prevent or quickly respond to any complications from liver transplant surgery.
Post-op hospital recovery after liver transplant lasts about two weeks. This does vary depending on your health before transplant, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
At first, you'll be in the transplant intensive care unit (ICU) as you recover from the operation. Here, the liver transplant team will closely monitor you and your new liver.
You will start taking anti-rejection medications right away to help reduce the chance of liver rejection.
When your body detects something new, your immune system begins working to fight what it views as a threat. Anti-rejection drugs suppress your immune system's natural response to allow your body to accept the new liver.
Once stable, you'll move to a patient room on the transplant floor.
During this time, your liver transplant care team will:
Before leaving the hospital, your liver transplant care team will review:
Be sure you fully understand your treatment plan before you leave the hospital.
You will need your caregiver available around the clock to take care of you once you go home.