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Liver Transplantation Procedure Information for Patients at Tampa General Hospital

Group of physicians Once you are on the waiting list for a liver transplantation procedure at Tampa General Hospital, our team will start the search for a suitable organ. We’ll notify you as soon as liver that matches your profile becomes available. This notification can come at any time, and in many cases the call is made in the evening. Because of this, it’s important that you provide TGH with accurate personal contact information, as well as up-to-date phone numbers for family and friends so that a line of communication can be established promptly as soon as a liver becomes available.

The initial call from TGH will come from a transplant coordinator, who will ask you several questions and provide directions on what needs to be done in the following minutes and hours. The coordinator will review your current health status, inform you whether you should discontinue use of any medications (including insulin), instruct you to stop consuming food and liquids, remind you to bring your transplant handbook and other necessary items to the hospital, and provide instructions for coming to TGH (including having a family member or friend transport you) and checking in at the admissions department prior to your liver transplantation procedure. These protocols help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Once you are admitted to TGH, you will be prepped for your liver transplantation procedure. The liver transplant surgery itself takes about three to six hours. During this time, your family can stay in the surgical unit’s waiting area, and the surgical staff will provide them with updates throughout the operation. When the liver transplant procedure is completed, you will be moved to the surgical intensive care unit, where your immediate family members will be permitted to visit during approved hours.

Upon awaking from your liver transplantation procedure, you will notice several tubes in your body, including:

A nasogastric tube to keep your stomach empty so you don’t feel nauseated

  • Tubes in your chest to drain fluid
  • A Foley catheter to drain your bladder
  • Several IV lines to administer medicines and fluids, and to take blood samples and check fluid pressures in the body
  • An endotracheal tube to help you breathe

Once you are stable and your breathing tube is removed, you will be moved to a private room in the transplant unit. At this time, a family member can stay with you if no medical reasons prohibit it (though children under 12 are not permitted in the transplant unit, and will have visits facilitated in other areas of the hospital). Typically, a hospital stay of seven to 14 days is necessary following a liver transplantation procedure. The inpatient recovery time can vary from patient to patient, and oftentimes depends on a patient’s health status prior to transplant – as well as their individual response to the transplanted organ.

As you proceed through monitored recovery following your liver transplantation procedure, you will undergo routine blood tests and X-rays, and receive daily visits from your surgeons and hepatology care team. You and your support person(s) also will participate in several educational sessions, where you’ll learn how to take care of yourself once you have been discharged. These sessions will cover your required medicine regimen, nutritional guidelines, and how to record your lab values, blood pressure numbers, blood sugar readings, and weight in your transplant log, which you will need to bring with you to all follow-up clinic visits after your liver transplantation procedure.