Travel Tips for Pediatric Liver Transplant Patients 

Traveling Before a Liver Transplant

Some people think they must stay close to home while they are waiting for a liver transplant. This is not always the case. If your child is a transplant candidate and feels up to going on a trip, your primary physician may okay it. Always check with your doctor first, and be guided by his or her recommendation.

Before a trip, notify your transplant coordinator of your travel plans. Transplant coordinators need to know your dates of departure and return; stopover points and final destination; and telephone number(s) where you can be reached, especially if you will be out of pager range.

Remember, if a donor organ or organs become available while you are away from home, you will need to travel from wherever you are to the transplant hospital. This is why, before leaving home, your should make transportation arrangements to get to the hospital from your trip destination. This will avoid delay in the event you are summoned to the medical center while traveling.

Traveling After a Liver Transplant

Once your child has recovered from surgery and feels well enough, he or she should be able to travel anywhere your family wants to go. Travel may take a little extra effort and planning ahead, but is often well worth it.

If you are planning extensive travel (a trip that will last longer than the interval between blood tests), Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation’s team recommends that you forward telephone numbers at which the transplant coordinators can reach you. If this is not possible, you should designate a third party, such as a relative or friend, with whom the coordinator can leave a message if necessary.

Medications and Medication Schedules

During your travel preparations, make arrangements to take enough medication with you. You may want to store medication in two areas, to avoid losing the entire supply in case of loss or theft. Carry at least half the medication with you, rather than storing it in your luggage. If you are traveling to a time zone where the time is no more than three hours different from the time at home, change your medication times at once. For greater distances, contact your coordinator for advice about timing medication doses.

Avoiding Infection
When traveling to a foreign country, check on conditions at your destination by calling the Centers for Disease Control International Hotline at 404-332-4559 or with the county health department in your destination to get public health updates. If you need information about conditions in the Pittsburgh area, you can call the Allegheny County Health Department at 412-578-8060.

Safe Food and Water
Contaminated food and water can be a cause of infection leading to intestinal illness. When traveling outside the United States or other industrialized countries, in areas with questionable sanitation, make sure your child only drinks canned or bottled beverages. Avoid ice and boiled water (as used to make coffee or tea). If the source of water is questionable, your child should also avoid using tap water to brush his or her teeth.

Avoid uncooked fruits and vegetables, salads, non-pasteurized milk and milk products, and raw meat or shellfish. All dairy products should be pasteurized. Fruit that you peel before eating is generally safe, as is cooked food that is still hot. Areas of high risk for food- or waterborne infection include the developing countries of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. In these countries, the lowest risk of food- and waterborne infection is in a private home; the greatest risk is in food from street vendors.

If your child develops traveler’s diarrhea, consult a local physician; have your child drink bottled fruit juices and decaffeinated soft drinks, and eat salted crackers. Doxycycline may be prescribed for transplant recipients to prevent as well as treat traveler’s diarrhea.

Learn more about Liver Transplant Safety and Best Practices.