The French full-back, who had not played for the Catalan giants since February 2012 after succumbing to the illness, made an emotional return to action in their game against Real Mallorca at Camp Nou this evening.
The 33-year-old thanked his cousin, who donated the liver, after the game and declared the return as "special".
"This is special for me, after a year out. Thanks to my cousin and all the people I met in the hospital. All [are] important," he told reporters.
Abidal returned to the squad at the end of March, with Vilanova also recently returning from a convalescence in New York after he underwent an operation on a cancerous saliva gland last year.