There are a few factors that affect life expectancy after a liver transplant, making it difficult to determine ahead of time which patients have the best chance of success. Some of the most important ones include the individual's age and health before the operation. Post-operative care afterward, including the medications given, also has a lot to do with it. One detail that patients can usually control is their lifestyle after the operation, which often is one of the determining factors.
The age of the patient is important, as it usually affects how the body deals with a transplant. Patients who are not extremely young or old often do best with a new liver. Those whose bodies are too young or undeveloped to deal well with illness or stress on the body, such as infants, are not usually the best candidates for a liver transplant. On the other hand, older patients whose other organs are deteriorating often do not have high life expectancy after a transplant either. This is because being in good health in general beforehand is important for the body to accept the new liver.
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It is also important to have excellent postoperative care in order to have long life expectancy after a liver transplant. Immunosuppressive medications are typically given to help the body accept the new liver, though once three months have passed without a negative reaction, the chances are typically good that the transplanted liver will work well in the body. Getting through one year without signs of liver rejection is an even better sign. Of course, having a good medical team to assist the patient in all aspects of postoperative care is usually helpful in having a good outcome.
The patient can also influence how the liver transplant process turns out, as taking good care of the body afterward offers the best chances of success. For example, the typical liver recipient is expected not to drink alcohol or do recreational drugs, since even occasionally doing so can have a negative effect on the liver. Additionally, it is important for patients to stay in shape, as being at a healthy weight and exercising regularly can help the body deal with the transplant. Having high blood sugar or hypertension usually makes the body work harder than it should, making it more likely that the body will reject the new organ.