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Organ Rejection Post Liver Transplant - Why It Happens?

Written and reviewed by
Dr.Rajiv Lochan 85% (10ratings)
MBBS, MS - General Surgery, FRCS (edinburgh), MD - R & D, FRCS Intercollegiate
Liver Transplant Surgeon, Bangalore  •  27years experience
Organ Rejection Post Liver Transplant - Why It Happens?

After any kind of organ transplant, most of the patients recover very fast and are able to get back to their normal life. But this does not mean that there will not be any further complications. Yes, when a new organ enters into the human body, the immune system may not accept it and starts attacking. It is important for a doctor to diagnose this at an early stage and treat it. Different organ transplants have different symptoms.

What is a rejection after a liver transplant?
When a foreign body enters into your body, then your body will react to the foreign body treating it as an enemy. Now, when your failed liver is replaced by a new liver, the body will see it as some threat and will reject it. This is called rejection. The immune system of your body will start producing antibodies, which will help in killing the new liver. Your body will not be able to realize that the new liver is beneficial for it.

In order to avoid rejection and for successful organ functioning, you need to take certain medications. This medication is going to trick the immune system of your body and the new liver will be treated as its own organ and not any foreign body. You may have to take this kind of medication along with other medications that prevent side effects of these medicines throughout your life. Some of the common signs of rejection that you must watch out for include dark urine, jaundice, severe body aches, cough, nausea, itching, tenderness in the abdominal area, high fever, and problem in breathing normally.

How to prevent rejection after a liver transplant
The patient who has undergone liver transplant should be given medicine to fight the attack and rejection. This medicine has to be used for a lifetime. Every person is different and every doctor is different. Each doctor would prefer a different medicine for each patient based on the condition of the patient.

Some of the common medications used after a liver transplant to prevent a rejection are:

  1. Tacrolimus
  2. Cyclosporine
  3. Prednisone

You need to be very careful when you are taking any of these medications or something prescribed by your doctor. You should take exactly the same dose prescribed and nothing more than that. High dose of these medicines will increase the chances of infection as that affects the immune system. So, the dose prescribed will be balancing the infections and rejections in your body. Frequent blood tests are also done to make sure that there is no trace of infection after liver transplant due to the anti-rejection medications. You need to be extra-cautious during the first few months after transplant as a high dose of anti-rejection medicine is given during this time and hence, chances of infection are high.

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