​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​After Your Operation

On this page, you can read all about what to expect during your hospital stay. Or, just click on one of the links below, to get the answer you want right now.

What will happen right after my operation?
  • You will wake up in the Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit (MSICU) or the Acute Care Unit (ACU)​. The average stay there is 2 – 3 days, but varies with each recipient. Our first priority is making sure your new liver is working well. Your transplant team will watch you closely for signs and symptoms of any complications, rejection or infections and will make changes to your care as needed.
  • Visiting is also limited in the ACU. There is a designated patient rest period from 3:00 pm – 5:00​ pm and no visiting is allowed during this time.
  • Rejection happens when your body's immune system recognizes your new liver as foreign matter. The body will try to react and damage your new liver. Blood tests monitor for changes that may be a sign of rejection. Identifying the early signs of rejection is important so that this process can be stopped and your new liver can continue to work well for you. In most cases, the liver can recover from acute rejection without permanent damage. Your transplant team will monitor and treat early signs of rejection. They will adjust your medication and therapy accordingly. We will also teach you the signs and symptoms of rejection so that you know what to watch for at home.
  • You will immediately start taking immunosuppressive drugs. These stop your immune system from rejecting your new liver. When you are immunosuppressed, you are also at more risk for infections. The tests we do to watch for rejection also help watch for early signs of infection. A culture sample will also be sent to check for infection. Your transplant team will monitor and treat early signs of rejection and adjust your medication and therapy accordingly. We will also teach you the signs and symptoms of rejection and infection so that you know what to watch for at home.​
How will I feel after my operation?
  • Once you have recovered from the anesthetic, you will likely feel some pain at the site of your incision. You will have to take pain medicine regularly for a short period of time. It will help you start moving around, sitting, and walking sooner.
  • ​Our pain management team will work with you during and after surgery to make sure your pain is well managed.

How can I take care of myself after my operation?

After the operation, you will immediately begin treatment with medication designed to prevent your immune system from rejecting your new liver. These types of medication are known as immunosuppressants. You will now take these medications for life.​

Moving your body is an important part of your recovery.

  • Start some deep breathing and coughing exercises. We'll show you an exercise called incentive spirometry
  • You will shower while you are in the hospital.​
  • Wiggle your toes and move your feet. This helps the blood in your legs to circulate.
  • Sitting up in a chair, performing self-care, and walking in the hallway are excellent ways to improve your strength and stamina.
  • You will be encouraged to sit up and walk as soon as you are able.

Nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, physiotherapists, and other members of the transplant team will teach you how to take care of yourself once you are discharged from the hospital.

Will I learn about my medication?

On the ​Transplant Inpatient Unit, you will learn about your new life with a liver transplant, including how and when to take your new transplant medicines and any side effects you may have. You will meet with one of our transplant pharmacists. The pharmacist will answer any questions you may have about your new medicines. You can also visit our patient toolbox​ to learn more about your transplant medicines and life after transplant.

What happens after I leave the ACU?

You will complete your recovery back on the ​Transplant Inpatient Unit​​. Our transplant nurses will help you continue to recover, gain strength, and learn how to manage with your organ transplant. Accommodation on this unit may be in a private or semi-private room. Private rooms are first allocated to patients requiring isolation, then to patients with private insurance coverage or those who have arranged to pay the daily fee for a private room.

H​ow long will I stay in the hospital?
  • You can expect to be in the hospital for 10 ​– 14 days.
  • Before you leave the hospital, your transplant team will give you a schedule that will tell you how and when to take all of your transplant medicines and when you will need to come to the hospital for regular blood tests and clinic visits.
  • ​Your schedule will be based on your progress and your doctor's recommendations. Over time, your clinic visits and blood tests will become less frequent.​​

​​​​​​Learn more about your stay

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