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Frequently Asked Questions

When you or a loved one need a liver transplant, countless questions can cross your mind. The team at Tampa General Hospital’s Transplant Institute are dedicated to improving, extending and saving the lives of people with advanced organ disease, and that includes answering even the most challenging questions with compassion and care.

Here are some of the questions we are most frequently asked:

How long does the evaluation take?

Typically, an evaluation can take 60-120 days. If you are very ill and hospitalized, the evaluation can take around a week to complete.

How can I see my test results?

Results are posted to Records can also be requested through the medical records department at TGH.

What happens if my insurance changes or I lose my insurance?

Contact us right away so that we can let you know what options are available.

How long will I wait on the transplant list?

Time on the waitlist largely depends on your MELD score. The higher the MELD score, the higher you are on the transplant list.

What is a MELD score?

It is a calculation based on bilirubin, international normalized ratio (INR), creatinine and sodium that is obtained from blood work.

Can I be listed at other transplant centers?

Yes, patients can be listed at multiple centers.

What happens if I want to take a vacation while I am on the waitlist?

Let us know when you are going and when you return. Some circumstances will require you to be placed inactive or on hold while you are away.

How long do I have to get to the hospital if I am called in for transplant?

We prefer that you are no more than four hours from our center when you receive the call, but we can discuss individual circumstances, as well as other ways you can prepare for liver transplant surgery.

How painful is it to get a transplant?

There will be pain, but this can be managed in various ways.

How long does the surgery take?

Surgery takes six to eight hours if there are no complications.

How long do I need to be in ICU?

Patients stay in the ICU for one to two days if there are no complications.

How long do I need to stay in the hospital?

Our average length of stay is five to seven days if there are no complications.

What is rejection?

Rejection is when your immune system realizes that your transplanted liver is there and fights against it. This may cause abnormal lab results which will require further testing to see what is going on.

Can I get rejection?

Rejection may happen at any time but is most common during the first year. Rejection is easily treatable if caught early and usually requires medication adjustment and frequent laboratory testing until corrected. Compliance with taking your anti-rejection medications and having your labs done at the appropriate intervals are key. It is also important to communicate to your transplant team any changes in your health status and any new medications you may be taking.

What kinds of medications will I have to take?

Immunosuppressant medication, such as tacrolimus, mycophenolate and prednisone are needed after transplant. Each patient requires a unique combination of these medications to prevent rejection.

Do I need to take medications for life?

Yes. Immunosuppressant medications will need to be taken for life to prevent rejection. The types and quantity are unique to each person.

How do I know if my liver is doing OK?

Having lab work done on a regular basis will let you know if a problem is developing. The transplant team monitors your blood work and makes adjustments to your medications as needed. This will be a life-long process.

When can I travel after transplant?

You can travel after three months if you are doing well and are cleared by your physician.

What kind of foods do I need to avoid after liver transplant?

Avoid raw meat and fish, as well as grapefruit and grapefruit juice.

When can I go back to work?

Most patients are able to return to work after three to six months.

What kind of activity restrictions will I have after my transplant?

You cannot drive for one month and must avoid heavy lifting for six to eight weeks.

Do I need to stay locally around TGH after the transplant?

Yes. You should stay locally for a minimum of two weeks. Click here to learn more about our local lodging options. We also maintain Transplant Houses, where patients and family can stay following a transplant procedure. Click here to learn more about our Transplant Houses.

Do I need to wear a mask?

Normally, you wouldn’t be required to wear a mask, but check with your transplant team about mask requirements during the pandemic.