After your child goes home from the hospital, he will need frequent visits to the transplant clinic, where he will be examined and undergo regular blood tests. Because the first year after pediatric liver transplant is the time in which rejection and other problems are most likely to occur, it's very important that the pediatric liver transplant team nurses and physicians closely monitor your child, especially since rejection episodes are often detected first with blood tests.
A typical schedule of post-transplant clinic visits might be:
Your child will also need to get laboratory tests done at least every three months for the rest of his life. For the first year, he'll be taking quite a few medications — as many as seven — then that number will decrease after the first 12 months, down to approximately one (typically tacrolimus) antirejection medication, taken twice a day.
Your child is at a higher risk for infection in the first few months because he will be receiving higher doses of antirejection medications during this time. He will need medicine designed to prevent these infections.
In addition to making sure your child gets the necessary follow-up care, watch him during this recovery period. His play and activities are the best gauge of how he's feeling. Be sure you know the symptoms of rejection and call your child's doctor immediately if you notice any.
Let the pediatric liver transplant team know if you have any questions or concerns. Find out whom you should call in an after-hours emergency. At CHOP, please contact the transplant office at 215-590-4281 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. At night and on weekends, you should call 215-590-1000 and ask for the GI fellow on call. This physician will relay all information to the pediatric liver transplant team.
Learn more about the long-term outlook for pediatric liver transplant patients.
Reviewed by: Elizabeth B. Rand, MD
Date: November 2012