If you suffer from liver disease, have an infection or there is some other cause, you may need to have a liver transplant in order to survive. According to the 2010 Annual Report of the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients three month survival rates are 91.7%, one year survival rates are 85.3%, five year survival rates are 68.4% and ten year survival rates are 54.4%. If you are approved and find a matching donor, here are some things to expect during your liver transplant recovery:

• Medical Recovery: Patients usually stay in the hospital ten to fourteen days, starting in intensive care for a few days and then moving to a transplant recovery area. Your medical team will insure your new liver is working and watch closely for any signs of bleeding, infection and rejection. You will start taking immunosuppressants to keep your immune system from attacking your liver. What these drugs do mean you’ll have to take them for the rest of your life. Additional drugs will be provided to reduce the risk of other complications. You may have to love close to the transplant center for a few months after transplantation in order to attend outpatient appointments so your recovery can be closely monitored.

• Physical Recovery: The physical part of recovering from a liver transplant usually takes about six to twelve months. In the beginning, it may be hard to do simple things such as coughing or breathing unless you have assistance and you may have to have physical therapy to rebuild stamina. Your diet may begin with ice chips and move on to clear liquids before reintroducing solid foods. You’ll have to refrain from drinking alcohol and it’s suggested you consistently use sun block as a preventative measure against skin cancer. Avoid people who are ill and continue to watch for any signs of rejection including fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, jaundice, dark urine and light-colored stools.

• Emotional Recovery: Some liver transplant patients find recovering from the transplant procedure is emotionally draining, not just for them but their families as well. Your hospital should have a social worker available who may be able to direct you to support groups which can help you through the process. There are also online resources which can help.

Your liver transplant recovery will last about three to six months, at which time you should be able to return to work, physical exercise and normal activities. You will always be on medications and have to be more attuned to signs your body is giving you, but let the transplant be the start of your new lease on life.