Before you can be considered for a liver transplant, you’ll need to have a liver transplant assessment. This to see if a liver transplant operation is possible, and the best treatment option for you. You’ll need to have this assessment before you can be put on a waiting list for a liver transplant. A multidisciplinary team (MDT) of specialists will assess the results of your assessment to decide.
A liver transplant is a major operation and the recovery process can be long. You’ll need to take medicines for the rest of your life to prevent your immune system from reacting to your new liver. And you’ll have regular appointments with your doctor to check that your liver is working well.
Most people are eventually able to return to most of their normal activities after a liver transplant, and have a good quality of life.
Support is an essential part of the transplant process. Your friends or family will play an important part in your recovery. And the transplant team will support you all every step of the way.
- metabolic conditions (problems with the physical and chemical processes that take place inside your liver to keep you alive), such as non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- some types of liver cancer, mainly hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
- polycystic liver disease
- paracetamol poisoning
- genetic diseases that affect the liver
If you have alcohol-related or drug-related liver disease, you’ll need to address this before you can go on the waiting list for a liver transplant. Your liver transplant team can support you to stop drinking or using drugs. The most important thing is that you’re open and honest with your medical team so they can support you in the best way possible.
There are benefits and risks for you to consider before you have a liver transplant. While you will get a new liver that will hopefully work well and give you a longer and better quality of life, there’s a chance you’ll have some problems during, or after the operation. These may include the following.
- Bleeding during your operation (a haemorrhage) that your surgeon cannot stop. Your surgical team will do all they can to help you, and you may need to have blood transfusions.
- Your new liver might not work as it should.
- A blood may clot may form in the artery going to your liver, which is called hepatic artery thrombosis.
- Your body may reject your new liver and see it as something it needs to attack because it realises your new liver came from a different person. So it sees it as something that isn’t supposed to be there. Rejection isn’t all or nothing, if your body starts to reject your new liver this can often be stopped.
Speak to your clinical team for more information about the benefits and risks of a liver transplant, and if you would like to explore if it’s an option for you. We also have more information in Having a liver transplant.
Having a liver transplant can be very complex. This hour long webinar gives:
- An insight into the transplant process.
- Information on the role of the transplant coordinator and social work support.
- The experiences of a liver transplant recipient.
- A Q&A with the speakers.