About Liver Transplant Surgery
When a liver becomes available, your name will be reviewed along with the others in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) computerized waiting list. If your illness places you in the highest priority, you will be chosen as the recipient and contacted by the transplant coordinator.
Once at the hospital, you will be prepared for surgery. It is both an exciting and frightening time, so it is important to have someone with you for support. When everything is organized, you will be scheduled for surgery. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes between five and seven hours.
After surgery you will be moved to the surgical intensive care unit. When you are awake and able to breathe normally on your own, the breathing tube inserted for surgery will be taken out. All other tubes that were inserted for other medical reasons will be removed gradually over the next several days. Generally, all tubes are usually gone by the time you go home.
The function of the transplanted liver will be monitored very closely in the first 24 hours. If everything is working well, you may be moved to the transplant unit after 24 to 48 hours. Right away, you’ll start taking medicine that dampers your immune system, so it’s less likely to damage the donated organ. You will be watched very closely for any side effects from these medicines.