Going Home After A Liver Transplant
When you return home, you will be expected to see your primary care physician (PCP). It is essential that you have a primary physician who can assist us in your long-term care. It is very important that you notify your transplant coordinator immediately if your PCP changes your medications or adds a medication. Any changes to your medication may interfere with your transplant medications.
You will meet with your transplant team including a surgeon, transplant coordinator and/or a heptologist every week for one month. After approximately one month your appointments will change once monthly for a year. You will be obtaining lab work often, and this can be done at your local facility.
If you have any health issues, such as a cold, flu or urinary tract infection, contact the UofL Health - Jewish Hospital Transplant Center at 502.587.4939 or toll free at 1.800.866.7539.
- If another physician prescribes medication for you, check with your transplant doctor or transplant nurse before taking it.
- Do not take over the counter medication unless you have checked with your liver doctor or transplant coordinator. This includes herbal preparations.
- Never take aspirin or other medications containing aspirin (such as Alka-Seltzer) unless directed by your physician. Aspirin is irritating to the stomach and cause bleeding ulcers. Tylenol is acceptable for occasional aches and pains. Do not exceed six regular strength Tylenol in 24 hours.
- Never change or stop any medication that has been prescribed for you without checking with your doctor first.
- DO NOT EAT GRAPEFRUIT in any form.
- Do not take Tums, Rolaids, Mylanta, or Pepto-Bismol at the same time as your medicines.
- Do not take your medications with chocolate milk.
- Always take your medications as prescribed. Call the transplant center if you miss a dose, are unsure if you took a dose, or if you have vomiting.
- Remember to take your medications with you if you go on vacation or travel frequently.
- Know the name, address and phone number of the nearest hospital and pharmacy when you plan to be away from home.
- Your doctor may put you on a special diet or may have counseled you to eat a "low salt" diet after your transplant. Either way, we recommend that you follow certain guidelines after your transplant surgery.
- The reason for the specialized diet is that the drugs used to prevent rejection (steroids) cause a "puffiness" or fat deposits in the face and across the upper back, called the"cushingoid effect." Reducing carbohydrates and increasing protein intake for three to six months seems to decrease this side effect of the medicine. If you have this diet, the hospital dietitian will explain exactly how you can plan your meals.
- The drugs you take to prevent rejection also cause an increase in appetite. We recommend you follow the list below during your transplant period.
- No driving for two to four weeks after transplant. You must have stopped taking pain pills before you will be allowed to drive. You must be cleared to drive by either the transplant doctors or nurse coordinators.
- No heavy lifting, straining or pulling of stomach muscles with sit-ups for three months. No lifting anything over 10 lbs.
- No contact sports (football, soccer, etc.)
- No swimming in fresh water and no swimming in pools or hot tubs until the incision has healed.
- Sometimes you will find your muscles are weak, especially in your legs. This could be a side effect of prednisone. Walking, bike riding, swimming, and aerobics are an excellent way to improve the strength of your leg muscles. After approval from your doctors, you should exercise a minimum of three days a week for 30 minutes each day.
- It is extremely important that you practice good dental and oral hygiene after your transplant. Brush your teeth twice per day and floss daily. You should see you dentist every six months.
- The mouth contains many harmful types of bacteria. These bacteria can enter your bloodstream during a dental procedure. To protect your body from infection, you will need to take an antibiotic before each dental visit.
- Consult your physician for the proper antibiotic regimen.
- You should only have emergency dental care for the first 3 to 6 months after your transplant.
- You should have your eyes examined on a yearly basis, or if you notice any changes in your vision. Prednisone can cause blurred vision or cataracts, and these conditions should be treated.
- You should not plan to travel for at least three months after transplant or until the transplant team has cleared you medically. Complications are most common during the first three months, and you may require hospitalizations to treat them. You must discuss travel plans with the transplant team.
- When traveling to a foreign country, drink bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Brush your teeth and rinse your mouth with bottled water.
- Always carry more medications than you will need for your trip. Immunosuppressants may not be readily available in other countries. If your return to the USA is delayed, you may not be able to obtain the medications that you need. Always carry medication in your purse or carry-on baggage. DO NOT pack your medications in your check-in luggage.
- You must always receive appropriate vaccinations before you travel.
- Transplant recipients often ask about their pets at home. There is no need to give away a pet, although there are some guidelines.
- It is recommended that the transplant recipient avoids cleaning up after the pet. This includes, but is not limited to, hamster, gerbil or birdcages, as well as fish tanks.
Immunizations & Shots
- It is recommended that you receive a flu vaccine every year unless the transplant doctors or nurse coordinators tell you otherwise.
- You should NEVER receive the nasal spray flu vaccine. You can get a flu shot from either your primary care doctor or at a pharmacy that is providing them. The transplant center does not give out flu shots.
- You must never receive immunizations for smallpox, measles, rubella, or any vaccine containing a live virus. You should be separated from any infants or small children who have received the polio vaccine or any live virus vaccine for at least three weeks. Also stay away from anyone with these diseases for at least three weeks.
- If you plan a trip to a foreign country that requires any of these, please contact us. We will write a letter to the passport bureau stating that you cannot receive these vaccines.