For those who don’t know my dad’s liver transplant story, it began in 2008 when his liver had failed in part due to having lived with the Hepatitis B virus with not much treatment.
First Transplant Journey
On October 6, 2008, he received new life after having received a liver transplant, after almost 2 months in a hepatic coma. He had since then recovered with many ups and downs in his journey. You can browse through his first transplant journal here.
In 2016, his liver is failing again. Many studies and literature show that transplanted livers may last up to 5 years on average, but some as long as 20 years. My dad had his for 8.
Prior to his current stay in the ICU, we had been admitted to the hospital about 5 times; each time began with a trip to the emergency room. One of the most challenging visits had been having to get him to (undisclosed hospital) from home, about an hour away, in full encephalopathy (altered brain function due to high ammonia levels), which required restraining him in the car over that one hour period of time. My mom had also been briefly admitted after a fall due to the hysteria of that early 4am morning.
Edema, swelling of ankles and feet
The visits to the ER had be due to an accumulation of edema in his legs. Edema is a swelling, usually of the legs, feet, and/or hands due to the accumulation of excessive fluid in the tissues. My dad would be given lasix to help with removing this excess fluid, although this is particularly hard on the kidneys and has to be balanced with caution. Liver patients are also given Lactulose, a synthetic sugar used to treat constipation to eliminate waste and ammonia with causes encephalopathy.
The typical treatments were not working and the next step in transplant maintenance was to do several venoplasties on my dad’s hepatic portal vein, each time enlarging it hopes to increase flow to the liver. This seemed to work very temporarily, for at most a few hours. My dad had gone through about 5 of these, and lastly a venoplasty on the smaller veins of the liver.
The edema in his lower extremities persisted, and perhaps also climbed its way up to his lungs. In the last weeks before ICU, my dad had contracted pneumonia and was gasping for breath.
With a new grandson, and a new will to live, lungs stricken with pneumonia and gasping for breath, Pros exclaimed, “Put me on life support if it comes to it, I want to fight and live!”
With new grandson, only 2 weeks old since being admitted to ICU.