Health and Fitness

Living With Immunosuppression After an Organ Transplant

The liver transplant survival rate in India is very high. People who undergo liver transplants have an 89% chance of living after one year. The five-year survival rate is 75%. 

After a liver transplant, your body’s immunity system weakens because of immunosuppressants (anti-rejection) medication prescribed to prevent rejection of the “foreigner” liver. Your body’s defenses are scavenging for germs and other foreign organisms. This means your body attacks your new life saving transplanted liver. This results in organ or graft failure. Hence, it’s of utmost importance to take medications at the right time and the right doses must be taken at all times. Immunosuppressive drugs are given to fight infection, prevent rejection and graft failure.

Immunosuppressant drugs have the power to block the effects of the body’s defenses.  They allow your body to live with the foreigner’s liver in harmony. By blocking your defenses, your body becomes vulnerable to bacterias, viruses, and fungal infections. 

Prolonged life after liver transplant is keeping the balance between rejection and infection. You will be prescribed 7-10 drugs to keep the body from rejecting the new organ along with anti-infective drugs. 

The duration of liver transplant surgery time is approximately between 6-12 hours and also depends on how complex your case is. 

Most patients get healed quickly after the transplant. They enjoy the smoothed quality of life just like before the surgery. While some have to face big challenges. 

For long-term survival, doctors will prescribe immunosuppressants drugs also called anti-rejection drugs. These drugs will help your immune system from attacking the new liver. Immunosuppressants have to be taken for the rest of your lives to prevent rejection of the donated liver. Along with anti-rejection drugs, your doctor will also prescribe other medicines to control their side effects such as acne, mood swings, round face, enlarged gums, weight gain, and hair growth or hair loss. 

Some other side effects include diarrhea, high cholesterol, infection, high blood pressure, and elevated blood sugar level. The medications are given for overall healthcare. Don’t become your own doctor and stop taking these drugs. Instead, bring to your doctor’s notice if you experience any of the side effects. 

Rejection of the organ is a constant menace. Keeping the immune system from the rejection of the donated liver requires strong surveillance. So it’s obvious for your transplant team to make adjustments to your anti-rejection drug regimen. 

Anti-rejection drugs may also increase dental problems such as dry mouth, tumors, mouth ulcers, enlarged gums, and yeast infection. 

Precautions to be taken after an organ (liver) transplant:

You are vulnerable to infections after the liver transplant. Initially, you will be prescribed immunosuppressant drugs. You will be at pretty high doses, hence it’s vital to take certain care and precautions: 

  • Wash your hands often:

Washing hands is an excellent way to reduce exposure to germs with a liquid handwash. It is very important to wash hands properly before eating food.

  • Avoid people who are sick:

It is best to limit meeting people especially avoiding those who have infections and contagious diseases such as chickenpox and measles.

  • Stay out of crowded areas:

It is vital to avoid crowded areas such as malls, shopping festivals, and theaters. 

  • Don’t take care of pets:

Pets carry germs with them so do not take care of pets, let others do it. Limit your exposure to them.

  • Don’t garden:

There are dangerous bacteria that live in the soil. So, hire someone to do the weeding for you, don’t garden it yourself.

  • Brush and floss daily:

Brushing and flossing every day is a sign of good healthy teeth. It keeps your mouth free from infections. Have your teeth cleaned once a while in six months.

  • Don’t ignore cuts or scratches:

It is easy to get bruised when the body is weak. So if you get a cut or a scratch put a bandage immediately. Get in touch with your transplant team if there’s any sign of infection. 

  • Practice safe sex:

Sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes can be a problem for anyone. It can be dangerous for people who have had a liver transplant. Condoms may not be enough to fully protect you from herpes. Even saliva from your spouse can be proved to be infectious to your body. So be protective while having a relationship.

Over a period of six months, as you heal and recover, your transplant team will reduce your medicines and doses. At this stage, you will be less susceptible to infections. But you still need to take precautionary measures. Keep in mind to wash your hands regularly with soap and limit crowded places. 

Dr. AS Soni is the best and recognized liver transplant surgeon in India, known for his pioneering work and expertise. 

Taking medication after liver transplant:

After a liver transplant, you are required to be on medication for the rest of your life. Some people need to take 7-10 medications daily which may sound daunting. Although, taking medications is absolutely crucial to staying healthy. Here are some tips: 

  • Keep medicines away from children and pets.
  • Store drugs at a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
  • Never stop taking the medication without prior consent from your transplant team.
  • Keep medicines in weekly boxes so that you never miss any.
  • Use alarms to remind you of the timer.
  • If you miss a dose, don’t think you can double up the next time.
  • Never fall short of medicines. Keep checking and ask the pharmacy to drop before you run out of medicines.
  •  Strictly follow the advice and instructions of your transplant team provider.   

Best State for liver transplant:

Below is the list of best hospitals for liver transplant in India:

  • Medanta Hospital In Gurgaon
  • Max Healthcare Hospital in Delhi
  • Apollo Hospital in Delhi
  • Fortis hospital in Delhi
  • BLK super specialty hospital in Delhi

The liver transplant survival rate in India is very high. People who undergo liver transplants have an 89% chance of living after one year. The five-year survival rate is 75%.

A healthy lifestyle is vital for every individual. Poor lifestyle may lead to rejection of the new liver. 

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AILBS - Advanced institute of liver and biliary sciences. Have a dedicated block for Liver transplant and GI Surgery, with highly professional staff to handle procedures as complex as Liver Transplant. Physicians, surgeons, and other health care professionals with the finest, state-of-the-art medical facilities all under one roof for quicker and accurate diagnosis! They one of the most sought-after teams of surgeons for Liver treatments in Southeast Asia and have one of the highest rates of success in liver transplants​.

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