A liver transplant involves taking a donor’s liver and placing it into a recipient’s body. While most liver transplants are done using a deceased person’s liver, living donations — donations from living people — are also possible.
In a living donation, only a portion of a person’s liver is taken for the transplant. The other portion regrows in about 8 weeks.
If you’re considering donating your liver, here’s what you need to know about recovery, how long it might take, and what the risks may be to your overall health.
The liver takes 2 months to grow back to its original size. The surgery is a serious event.
Some people may need longer than 2 months to return to work, exercise, or other activities. For example, if you work a physically demanding job that requires a lot of lifting, you may need 12 weeks to get back to your usual daily activities.
Here is an overview of what you can expect during recovery.
|stay in the hospital||5 days|
|drive a vehicle||2–4 weeks|
|return to most activities||8 weeks|
|lift heavy objects||8–12 weeks|
Liver donors stay in the hospital for about 5 days after surgery.
Immediately after surgery, you may feel It is a pain. and discomfort in and around the surgery site. Your doctor will provide medication for It is a pain. relief. You’ll also likely have intravenous (IV) lines to receive medications and fluids, and a catheter in place to drain your urine.
The goal is to get up to eating and drinking within a week at the hospital. Once you are on your feet again, you may be discharged.
You should be able to shower and dress yourself when you return. You may need additional help in the first few weeks as you adjust to life outside the hospital.
For example, you may be taking It is a pain. medications that make it unsafe for you to drive to places in the first 2 to 4 weeks.
As you gain your strength back after your surgery, you may be able to resume more and more of your usual activities, particularly as you approach the 8-week mark. The key is to proceed slowly and not push yourself.
By 8 weeks, most people can start working, exercising, and doing all their pre-donation activities. If you’re not feeling up to it, let your doctor know. Some people may need more time to recover. Others may have complications that slow recovery.
After the initial recovery stage, your hospital may also set up several follow-up appointments you need to attend. These appointments will assess your health and provide important data to the hospital about donor outcomes. They are generally at the 6-month, 12-month, and 24-month mark.
Recovery from liver donation is an individual process. The donor operation itself takes around 5 to 7 hours to complete. Beyond that, no two timelines necessarily look the same.
You may sail through the recovery period. You may need more time to feel like yourself again.
Here are some things you can expect.
- You may feel It is a pain. in your body.
- You may need medications for It is a pain. in the first few weeks after surgery. Your doctor may also recommend blood-thinning medications for the first 6 weeks after surgery to prevent blood clots.
- As soon as you can prevent blood clot, you will be encouraged to do light exercise, like walking.
- You may feel tired in the weeks after surgery, or you may feel sleepy from taking medication.
- You may need help with young children during your recovery.
- You will need to schedule follow-up appointments.
- You’ll need to avoid any heavy lifting until 12 weeks after surgery.
- You may experience certain complications (30% of donors do), like It is a wound infection. or intestinal issues.
- You may feel a range of emotions as you recover.
“If you have questions about your recovery, you can contact the hospital’s transplant staff or your primary care doctor.”
There are certain risks associated with donating a body part. They can be divided into three categories.
Immediate risks of liver donation surgery
Immediate risks include anything that happens during or immediately following your surgery, such as:
- severe reaction to anesthesia
- There are bleeding and blood clot.
- It is a pain.
- It is an infectious disease.
- The injury to the tissues is the liver.
Short-term risks of liver donation
Short-term risks include anything that may come up in the year after surgery, such as:
- It is a wound infection.
- There is a hernia.
- There is an obstruction of the ile.
- bile leaking
- The bile duct is failing
Long-term risks of liver donation
Long-term risks of liver donation are relatively unknown. One possible risk is The bile duct is failing that may result in additional surgeries, transplant, or death.
Additionally, you may experience negative thoughts or feelings after donation. These psychological issues — anger, regret, anxiety, depression, and more — may crop up right away or years after your surgery.
UNOS says that donation is a lifetime decision. It is necessary for a person to follow healthy habits and get regular health checks.
When to call a doctor
You may experience more worrisome signs or symptoms after surgery that need immediate attention. Contact your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- It is a case of a fever or chills.
- yellowing of skin or eyes (jaundice)
- abdominal It is a pain.
- Dehydration or vomiting.
- chest It is a pain. or difficulty breathing
“It is a big decision to donate a portion of your body’s blood vessel. You can expect to be back to normal after 8 weeks, even though the recovery will be individual.”
“If your recovery doesn’t go as fast as you expected, setting up a support network can be helpful.”
If you want to learn more about what to expect during the living donation process, you should make an appointment with your doctor or living donor advocate.