How to Help Someone Recover From a Liver Transplant

During the first weeks and months after a liver transplant, a patient needs monitoring to ensure the long-term success of the liver transplant. Hospitals will usually discharge patients within 1 to 2 weeks after surgery, but it may be months before they can completely resume normal activity. A strong support network may increase the success of post-transplant recovery.

Steps

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    Identify family and friends who will provide support after transplant. List all the contact information and the times of availability for each person.
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    Obtain necessary permissions to receive information from the patient's medical team. The patient will typically need to sign release forms before doctors or nurses can discuss medical issues with any person who is not the patient.
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    Become acquainted with the patient's medical team. The medical team will be your best source of information on post-transplant recovery.
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    Make sure they eat well, to speed up their recovery[1]
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    • Make them eat better – a person healing form a major operation should avoid fatty foods, sugar-filled drinks and snacks, and reduce processed carbohydrates. Instead make sure they opt for unrefined carbohydrates, snack on fruits and drink water.
    • Make sure they drink more –when recovering from trauma such as surgery, the human body needs more water –this will help in many ways. Make them drink more!
    • Cook or buy more protein based meals – proteins are the building blocks of the human body; after a surgery, the patient needs to eat more proteins to give their body all it needs to recover. Make them eat more lean meats, fish, beans, tofu, yogurt and eggs.
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    Attend meetings with the medical team so you can learn post-operative care for recovery after a liver transplant.
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    Prepare the patient's home for the recovery period. Successful recovery after a liver transplant depends on avoiding infection. A thorough cleaning will make infection less likely.
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    Shop for any items that the medical team suggests or that you know you will need during the first days after the patient's homecoming.
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    Assist with medications, taking and charting temperatures and blood pressure, and caring for the incision. Follow any specific instructions from the medical team after the liver transplant.
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    Develop a caregiver and visit schedule for the first weeks of post-transplant recovery.
    • Visitors will be important in helping your loved one return to full health, but these visits will be most beneficial if they are not too long or too overwhelming.
    • Guests should receive guidance from the support team on hand washing and other safeguards against infection.
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    Coordinate childcare and pet care. Children and pets are important family members, and the patient will have less stress knowing that someone is caring for both during and after the liver transplant.
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    Provide transportation to medical appointments and other activities, as needed.
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    Resolve insurance and medical billing issues during recovery if the patient is comfortable with this. The patient may also appreciate assistance with other daily tasks, such as handling bills.
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    Maintain housecleaning, yard work, shopping and home repair, as needed. Friends and family who have only limited availability but who wish to help may be of assistance with specific tasks.
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    Offer physical support and companionship as the patient increases activity level and exercise.
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    Give emotional support. Medications may produce mood changes, and the physical challenges of recovery after a liver transplant can be tiring. Many patients appreciate a sympathetic ear.

Tips

  • Your loved one's medical team will have patient-specific instructions detailing how to help someone recover after a liver transplant.
  • Maintain your own physical and emotional health. You will be more helpful to the patient if you have enough rest.
  • Caregiver support groups and family members of successfully recovered patients can offer you advice on support after transplant.
  • If the patient has ANY signs of illness in the early stages at home, go straight to your local hospital. Sepsis can develop rapidly!

Things You'll Need

  • Thermometer
  • Blood-pressure cuff
  • Scale
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer and hand soap

Article Info

Categories: Pain Management and Recovery