Read about the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about liver transplantation in Korea from a living donor (LDLT). We have collected a number of inquiries that we most often receive from people seeking for information to treat liver problems. Please note that in Korea, by law, foreigners are candidates only for Living Donor Liver Transplantation, thus, liver from deceased donors is NOT available.
Surgeons usually take 50% of the liver from the donor, a maximum 60%~ 70%. The donor’s liver is restored within 1 month by 80%-90%. The recipient’s liver reaches 80% within 3 months, liver parameters return to normal within 1 month after surgery.
Unfortunately, if your body rejects the new liver (partial), you won’t be able to notice until doctors run blood tests. This is because there is no physical pain or noticeable changes. If your body starts rejecting the new liver, doctors will increase the immunosuppressants and might add complementary medical drugs. If organ rejection is not prevented in time, then a second liver transplant may be required. Thus, please take your medications as doctors instruct.
After surgery, the biggest threat is infection. Taking immunosuppressants decreases the body’s ability to fight viruses, thus it is important to avoid infections. Over time, the dosage of immunosuppressants decreases, but it is important to remain cautious and avoid crowded places for a while and other dangerous activities.
Taking immunosuppressants after transplantation is as an important stage of treatment as the surgery itself. The difference is that at this stage the responsibility lies on the patient. Immunosuppressants are necessary throughout life after surgery to prevent rejection. The dosage is regulated by the attending physician and eventually decreases to the minimum allowable so that the patient can live a normal life.
More questions on liver transplantation in Korea:
Is it possible to get a consultation in advance and what do I need?
You can get the surgeon’s opinion in advance through a video consultation. After reviewing the medical data, the physician will be able to tell whether a transplantation is needed or if there are other methods of treatment.
To do this, you will need to send the patient’s and potential donors’ information in advance (medical history, blood tests, MRI and CT scans).
Our coordinator will help you with the list of necessary documents, organization of the consultation and other issues.
Do I need a caregiver before and after surgery?
The presence of an accompanying person is advisable. Sometimes, depending on the patient’s condition, it may be mandatory. Also, the donor cannot be the caregiver for the recipient after the surgery. Therefore, one more accompanying person is important.
Coordinator’s advice: we have a database of experienced English-speaking nurses. If necessary, you can hire a nurse for the duration of hospitalization.
How often should I have my medical appointments and when can I return home?
The first month after the surgery, outpatient appointments happen every 1-2 weeks, depending on the condition. After the first month, consultations are held less often: 1 time per month during 1 year after surgery. Then 1 time every 2 to 3 months.
Doctors allow patients to fly back home after making sure your condition stable, all stitches are removed, liver function work well, and seeing that the patient takes medications as dictated. Doctors usually allow to return home 1 to 2 months after the surgery.
The donor can return home 3 to 4 weeks after the surgery.
Coordinator’s advice: before returning home, find a hospital and a specialist at the place of residence to manage the patient. It’s possible to make an appointment for an online consultation with the attending physician in Korea, but having a physician nearby is important.
DOs and DONTs after liver transplantation surgery
- Avoid large crowds
- Wash food (fruits, vegetables) properly before eating
- Wear a mask every time you go outside
- Avoid eating raw fish, meat and other raw food
- Wash your hands thoroughly after each outing (family members as well)
- Avoid people with cold or other infectious diseases
- Tea and coffee are allowed, but only 1 cup per day
- Dietary supplements, decoctions and infusions of herbs, mushrooms, green juices, oriental medicine preparations, folk remedies, etc.
- Grapefruit and juices from it, as it interacts with some immunosuppressants
- Smoking, alcohol
- Pets and indoor plants
- Timely and constant medication intake, timely examination by attending physicians
- Dental and oral care (dental implants only 6 months after surgery)
- Proper balanced nutrition and regular exercise
- Low-salted food, give preference to fresh products
- Drink plenty of clean water, at least 2.5 liters per day
- When body temperature rises to 37.5 and above or have symptoms indicating the presence of infection (cough, sputum, vomiting, diarrhea, pain, etc.) go to the hospital
- Excessive consumption of sweets and carbohydrates, this can lead to an increase in blood sugar
- Food with a high content of cholesterol and animal fats
- Instant noodles (ramen), fatty foods, pickles, extra sweet foods (cakes, etc)