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What Is Liver Transplant Rejection? | Liver Helpline India

November 28, 2023

A liver transplant has always been an invasive surgery where a diseased liver changes with a healthier one. In this process, a lot of medical tests are conducted because the donor’s liver has to match the recipient’s health. As luck would have it, sometimes the transplanted liver gets rejected by the body, and the recipient’s immune system starts attacking the transplanted liver.

liver transplant rejection

In this matter, infections and other medical problems start arising, which require methodical treatment. So, there is a need to understand liver rejection, its risks involved, and its treatment. 

What is Liver Rejection?

liver rejection

The process of rejection is recognized as the recipient’s immune system attacking the healthy transplanted liver. Such a condition occurs when the immune system identifies the liver as another organ from a separate person’s body. It thinks that the respective liver should not be there. The problem of rejection can still occur for the patient taking all the prescribed medications. But one thing is sure the people taking no medicine after the liver transplant surgery may have a higher risk of getting rejection from the body. 

Risk of Liver Rejection:

Considering the risk of rejection, it tends to occur in around 30 patients from the 100 surgeries conducted. It should be noted that the risk of rejection can be slightly higher in the initial 6 months after the liver transplant surgery. After these months, the recipient’s immune system will not recognize the liver from another person and will adapt to the changed liver.

One thing to note is that treating liver rejection in the early stage is slightly easier than in the later stage. If you leave the liver rejection untreated, there are chances of getting liver failure, re-transplant, or death as per the severity. Generally, the condition of chronic liver rejection indicates the loss of bile ducts, which requires another liver transplant on an immediate basis.

Symptoms of Liver Rejection:

Symptoms of Liver Rejection

Considering the symptoms of liver rejection, it can be identified as when the transplanted liver does not function as required after the transplantation. In this matter, getting jaundice is the most common symptom that confirms liver rejection. So, it is better to check with the surgeon and get the right treatment. 

Diagnosing of Liver Rejection:

Diagnosing a liver rejection case calls for conducting a biopsy. This happens when a sample of the liver tissue is taken to check under a microscope. The process of biopsy is done under local anesthesia. Though, risks of bleeding are there, but is seen as rare in patients. Further to this, the patient’s health and their transplanted liver are monitored in the clinic

Treating Liver Rejection:

Treatment for liver rejection is done by giving strong immunosuppressants. If the liver transplant rejection is identified early, doctors can treat them. Rejection can cause an organ to fail requiring medication or surgery, which is uncommon. Also, the treatment given to the patient depends on the kind of liver rejection you have.

Type of Liver Rejection:

Various forms of rejection are categorized as per the parts of the immune system attacking the organ. Every form of liver rejection necessitates separate different treatments. Around 80 out of 100 liver patients who experience acute rejection require a higher dose of intravenous steroids for three days as a part of the treatment. It can resolve the problem of liver rejection. On the other hand, 20 out of 100 patients might require more influential anti-rejection treatment after a liver transplant. Generally, liver rejection can be identified as a graft loss where the transplanted healthy liver stops functioning. 

Preventing Risk of Rejection:

If you are willing to prevent liver rejection, it is advisable to attend all the appointments with your surgeon. Besides this, it is better to take the prescribed medicines on time without any delays. On experiencing side effects from the anti-rejection medicines, you should immediately consult with your doctor. The patient should not stop taking anti-rejection medications as the slightest of negligence can cause trouble. 


Liver rejection occurs when the newly transplanted liver does not get adapted to the recipient body, and the tissues starts attacking it. This problem may occur in the first 6 months after the transplant, which can be cured through medicines. All you have to do is consult with the doctor on experiencing slightest of discomfort or jaundice after your liver transplant surgery. Just make sure to take the medicines and treatment on time as this problem subsides. Indeed, liver rejection is not seen inpatients beyond 6 months as the body starts adapting to the newly transplanted liver. 

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