Improving Your Child's Quality of Life Post-Liver Transplant

More children than ever are surviving liver transplants at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Factors that have helped improve survival rates and quality of life in young people after liver transplant include advances in:

  • Surgical techniques.
  • Immunosuppression.
  • Follow-up after.

Children now enjoy a quality of life vastly better than they could expect a decade earlier.

To make an appointment for your child's liver condition, call us at 412-692-6110, option #1.

Helping Your Child Thrive After Liver Transplant

Improved transplant survival rates now focus on finding ways to make your child's recovery less difficult.

The hardest time for a child and their family is often the first year after transplant. 

Some children, due to their medical condition may have had restrictions in some of the following areas:

  • Play with their friends or go to school.
  • Interact with their siblings, parents, and loved ones.
  • Have a childhood in the same way that other children have.

After they leave the hospital and return home, your child may have some catching up.

As their health steadily improves, so will their quality of life.

Here are a few ways you can help your child thrive after their liver transplant:

  • Make sure they take all of their medication at the proper time.
  • Make sure they get plenty of rest.
  • Help them get back into their daily routine. Some kids can start doing what they used to do two or three months after surgery.
  • Provide healthy meals and snacks.
  • Get active with your child. Go for a bike ride. Take a walk. Or do what you enjoy.

Recent Advances in Liver Transplant Medicine

Research at UPMC Children's and our colleagues at UPMC Presbyterian include:

  • Lower doses of anti-rejection drugs reduce side effects and improve quality of life.
  • Finding better ways to diagnose and treat infections before they have a chance to complicate a child's recovery.

Lower doses of anti-rejection drugs increase quality of life

The first hurdle in the early years of transplantation was lowering the rate of organ rejection. Immunosuppression guidelines included large doses of anti-rejection medications.

Although some children didn't reject their new organ, many suffered from the side effects of their many medicines. One serious side-effect includes an increased risk of infection.

As rejection rates fell, doctors at UPMC Children's began rethinking the use of large amounts of anti-rejection drugs.

In early 2002, we started using a new immunosuppression guideline that:

  • Removes the need for steroids.
  • Lowers the required dosage of Prograf (tacrolimus), the primary anti-rejection drug.

Reduced long-term steroid use improves outcomes

Under the new guidelines, the medical team at CHP has seen fewer cases of organ rejection.

Avoiding long-term use of steroids also helps children avoid prednisone-related problems, such as:

  • "Moon-face" (Cushingoid facies).
  • Increased acne in teens.
  • Stunted growth.
  • Weight gain.
  • Mood swings.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Cataracts.

Contact the Liver Transplant Program at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

To make an appointment or request a consult to discuss your child's liver condition, call 412-692-6110, option #1.