Transplant recipients face many of the same surgery risks as donors, such as:
* Blood clots
* Bile duct problems
* And death.
Because liver recipients are already sick, their risk of having a problem during or after the surgery is higher. They also are at risk of their body rejecting the new liver. This is called "transplant rejection." It happens when a person's immune system is fooled into thinking the new liver is a harmful invader.
To help reduce this risk, transplant recipients need to take medications to reduce the strength of their body's immune system. While this helps protect the new liver, it also makes them more likely to get an infection. Even with the right medications, transplant rejection can still happen.
In up to 5 out of 100 liver transplants, the section of liver that's transplanted (also called the "graft") simply doesn't work right. This is called "graft failure." Graft failure can happen whether the person received a liver from a living donor or deceased donor. It's difficult to predict who will have graft failure and who won't. If this does happen, the recipient's condition will continue to get worse, and he or she may need a new transplant or may even die.
On the other hand, most recipients recover well from a transplant, and have an active, healthy, and enjoyable life. Nationwide, close to 9 out of 10 of people who receive a new liver from a living donor are still alive 1 year later, when they may not have been alive if they didn't have a liver transplant.
Similarly, about 8 and a half out of 10 people who received their liver from a deceased donor are still alive one year later. After 3 years, about 8 out of 10 people with a living donor liver are still alive, versus about 7 and a half out of 10 for those with a deceased donor liver.