Thursday, January 14, 2010


This is Aunt Julia again. While we were at the hospital today, Lizzie asked me to do an informative post with the specifics of a liver transplant. I found a very basic description at:

"Following the administration of anesthesia, patients are taken to the operating room where a team of about 10 physicians, nurses, physician assistants and technicians perform the liver transplant. After inspecting the donor liver and marking important structures to be connected during surgery, the liver transplant surgeon makes a Y-shaped incision in the abdomen to open the abdominal cavity.

Because the liver lies in part behind the rib cage, special retractors are used to help hold open the abdominal cavity so the surgeons can more easily maneuver. Next, the surgeon uses clamps to block blood flow from the major veins and arteries supplying your liver. The diseased liver is detached from the arteries and veins, and removed from your body.

The new liver, which has been on ice awaiting transplant, is placed in the same position as the diseased liver. The veins are first connected with sutures, followed by the hepatic artery and bile duct. After it is successfully sutured, blood flow to your liver is resumed while the surgeons observe to ensure the new organ is working properly. After ensuring that the new liver is functioning well, the clamps expanding the chest cavity are removed and the surgeon uses surgical staples to help the incision heal. The staples stay in place for about 2 - 3 weeks and are covered by a dressing, which will remain in place for a few days following surgery."

LuLu's surgery will take about 8-12 hours. I believe the OR nurse will call us in the waiting room with fairly frequent updates. LuLu is expected to stay in the hospital for about one month post surgery.

If you want a REAL education on liver transplantation, I have just the place for you to visit. One of LuLu's "liver friends" (Martim) has photos from his liver transplant on his blog. Martim is from Portugal, but recently had his transplant in the UK. He has Alpha-1, just like LuLu. Martim's daddy was his live donor, and there are photos of Martim's liver, with advanced cirrhosis. His dad's liver, in contrast, is beautiful and pink. What a miracle. Be warned that they are graphic, just in case you can't stomach surgery photos. Here they are.

Good night, and God speed, sweet LuLu. I love you baby girl.




Karen said...

Praying in Illinois for all. Trying not to cry for all of you as I head to work today. God Bless ...thank you so much for all the updates.

Ethan said...

Thinking and praying for you and your family Liz.

allieb said...

Thanks for the info, Julia. Loved reading about Martim's journey and getting a better idea of what Lulu is about to go through. It truly is a miracle.

Angeline said...

My thoughts and prayers are with your family. I pray the surgery is a success and that you will be rocking Lulu to sleep in her own room very soon.

Angie Campasano Miller


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