Living with a transplant is a lifelong process. Your child will be taking immunosuppressants and other medications — to combat the side effects of the antirejection medications — for the rest of her life. But most of these can be decreased over time. Regular follow-up and checkups are essential. When your child becomes old enough, she'll need to learn about antirejection medications and what they do, the signs of rejection, and everything else her parents have learned so she can eventually care for herself independently.
Despite these issues, most children who receive a pediatric liver transplant are able to live a normal life, with few restrictions. They attend school and participate in sports and other age-appropriate activities. If you have questions about what your child's life will be like after transplant both now and when she becomes an adult, don't hesitate to ask.
Liver transplantation became a generally accepted treatment for end stage liver disease only in the 1980s, so the longest term survivors mostly date from that time. Liver graft survival depends on medications, but appears to be much longer than other solid organs. There are many survivors at greater than 20 years. How long your child's new liver transplant will last is uncertain. We do know that results continually improve as physicians and scientists learn more about how the body deals with transplanted organs and search for ways to improve transplantation.
Learn more about the follow-up care pediatric liver transplant patients need.
Reviewed by: Elizabeth B. Rand, MD
Date: November 2012