What to expect in the Department of Critical Care Medicine [DCCM]  Auckland Hospital after your Liver Transplant Operation

Before you have your liver transplant operation, if you are not already a patient in DCCM, you and your family may like to have a look at the room that you will be coming to immediately after your operation. The DCCM staff will be pleased to meet you and to show you around. The nurse in the ward will arrange this for you and bring you down to visit.

This is a photo of what your family will see, when they come to visit you.

Where you will rest after the transplant.

The Procedures Room

The Procedures Room


Post Transplant in the DCCM

Immediately after you have had your liver transplant operation you will be admitted to DCCM. You will have a separate room with one or two nurses taking care of you. You may still be very sleepy as some of the anaesthetic medications may still be in your system. There will be a breathing tube in your mouth down into your throat so you will be unable to speak. This breathing tube will be attached to a ventilator (breathing machine) and you will have a variety of drains, monitoring wires, drips and feeding tubes attached to you.

This is a photo of a ventilator

This is a ventilator.

The nurses and doctors will be talking to you explaining what things are and what is happening. Constant reassurance and explanations by the staff are so important.

A few patients have some pain and may be given self administering pain pumps. Otherwise the nurse will administer pain relief when it is required.

There will be regular doctor’s rounds, up to 6 a day, involving all the different specialists involved with your progress.

At this stage you can only communicate by mouthing or by writing, the breathing tube prevents you from talking. Unless you have urgent questions, it is recommended you rest and not waste energies on trying to speak. Once the breathing tube is out (anytime from 12hrs to 3 days later) you will be able to ask as many questions as you need.

This initial time in DCCM can be very tense for your family. Visiting may be restricted to a few close family members only, as rest for you, the patient, is paramount.

Although you may not remember these first few hours with us, your family will have very vivid memories about how it was for them. Every endeavour is made to keep the families fully informed as to the admission and progress and to bring them in to visit as soon as possible.

Sometime in the first 24 hours an ultrasound will be done in DCCM to check the circulation of your new liver.

Once you are breathing well enough on your own and able to cough effectively the breathing tube will be taken out. You will be given oxygen through a mask or nose tubes. Gradually some of the IV lines and some of the tubes will be taken out.

As soon as all the specialist doctors from DCCM and the Liver Unit are happy with your progress you will be transferred back to ward 71 where your recovery will continue.

We wish you all the best and will endeavour to make your stay as smooth as possible.

Heather Howard, Intensive Care Nurse
April 2001