What Happens During a Liver Transplant Operation?

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During a liver transplant operation the sick liver is removed from the body and a new liver either from a deceased donor someone who has died or a living donor where we use a part of the liver is sown in place, it goes in the exact same anatomic location as the prior liver and is attached to the recipient's arteries, veins and bile ducts that drain the liver exactly where the prior sick liver was. Though the operation sounds simple this is one of the most complex operations that is performed in the world.

Because the patient is so ill going in, the recovery period can be complex and long, though a good liver transplant with a good functioning liver patients can get out of the hospital in as early as 8 days. But all of our patients come from the operating room directly into the Intensive Care Unit, they have lots of tubes and wires, but as the liver starts to function they rapidly recover, we get all those tubes and wires out, patients start walking around within a day or two, eating usually that at that same time and after we adjust all the medications needed both to suppress their immune system and prevent rejection and to prevent infection from the immune suppression.

We can also and get patients on the road to recovery in a week or two, though they won't expect to regain complete normal function for a few months.