After a liver transplant, it can take pediatric patients several months before they are feeling completely normal. The recovery process includes clinic visits, medications, a healthy diet, and many safety precautions.
Immediately following the surgery, the patient will be taken to the pediatric intensive care unit at the Charlotte Bloomberg Children’s Center. Typically, patients will spend about 7-10 days here before being transferred to the general inpatient floors. In all, families can expect for their child to spend 2-3 weeks in the hospital.
Following discharge, clinic visits will initially occur twice a week. If everything is stable after a month, visits will be scheduled once a week. Eventually, clinic visits will taper down to a monthly occurrence.
As the recovery process occurs, the patient should eat a diet in proper nutrition. Normal activity can be resumed shortly after the surgery, however contact sports and vigorous exercise should be avoided for the first three months.
Your transplant team will work with you to determine when it is the best time for your child to return to school. In the meantime, private tutoring may be necessary.
Staying on a medication regimen is critical for long-term recovery. Transplant recipients can expect to be on some medications for the rest of their lives. The medicines that are typically used in transplant recovery are:
- Antibiotics / Antivirals / Antifungals
There are a few things parents should keep in mind when it comes to their child’s medication:
- Do not increase or decrease your child’s medication without discussing it with the physicians first.
- Get more medication from the drug store before the supply runs out. Plan ahead for weekends and vacations.
- When your child no longer needs a specific medicine, it will be stopped by the transplant physician.
- Do not give over-the-counter medications for colds or flu without consulting your physician.
Children are highly prone to illnesses such as chicken pox and influenza. Transplant recipients should take every precaution to limit their exposure to these diseases. Because the medications suppress the immune system, live virus vaccines should not be given to transplant recipients or family members. Your transplant team can address this in further detail when appropriate.