Hepatits C is a silent killer..
February 4, 2007 2:17am CST
My husband got a pint of blood in a hospital following a minor surgery in 1978. At that time no one had ever heard of Hep C...there was no test for it...it wasn't on the charts...Well, that little bag of blood almost cost him his life, as it was contaminated with Hep C and it began it's slow and certain destruction of his liver immediately. Over the next 25 years he would have blood draws and they would tell him he must have had Hepatitis a or b when he was younger as it had left him with elevated liver enzymes...Then in 1998 we applied for new life insurance and had to have blood work done..they had since developed a test for Hep C and sure enough his test was positive. We had no idea what that would mean...but they told us that even though he had not one symptom he would eventually be a candidate for a liver transplant...less than one year later we found that the Hep c had caused a specific kind of liver cancer to develop and still without symptoms we began the process of being evaluated for a transplant...within 8 months the cancer began growing and was threatening to spread..we had to move fast...the UNOS list for organ donation was too long and they said he would never live long enough to get the transplant. Luckily we had the internet and we left the University's office and headed home where I emailed out to all transplant centers to see what experimental things were in the works...We got an immediate answer from U of Colorado and their living donor liver transplant program...A very tricky and serious surgical procedure. It takes a living donor and splits their liver 60/40 then implants the 60% into the recipient and the donor will regrow their liver in 6 weeks to full size. Our son was our forever hero and donated his 60%...we had to go to Denver from Seattle to have it done...it almost cost our son his life...he had complications...but all in all we had a wonderful final outcome...both well and healthy...We lived in Denver for 4 months and my husband was in and out of the hospital..but that was over 7 years ago and we thank God we are so blessed.... Please get tested for Hep C and be aggressive with your follow ups...our insistence is the only reason he is still alive...they said take him home and he might live 6-18 weeks...the day before the surgery we were hiking up in the Rocky Mtns...that's how asymptomatic he was...Be good to your liver and be good to yourself...Get tested and be smart..ANy questions you have I would love to answer...
11 Feb 07
Sometimes the things that can save our lives can also put it in serious harm, and this is what happened to your husband. I had a similar experience but mine was not Hepatitis and ended up being nothing but it was still a very worrying time. I needed an urgent transfusion in the early 1980's and at that time many things weren't known but a couple of years later it came out that some parients had been given blood transfusions and contracted AIDS. I was tested regularly after that for many years, but worst of all was that I could no longer donate blood as I had been doing for many years. Luckily it turned out I was okay but still not a pleasant thing to suspect. It is good that your husband recovered and also that your son was able to give him part of his liver. It must have been an extremely worrying time for everyone in the family worrying about both your husband and son. Not forgetting that you were out of your own environment for all those months. I do have to admit that I insisted our son get his injections for all sorts of things when he started to travel. No specific reason but felt it better that he have as much protection as possible, just in case. For the same reason whenever he returns home to Australia I make him see the Doctor for a check-up. Even though he is an adult I do "make" him and he knows that once I have my mind made up it really is easier to do as I ask. Son tells me that it is less painful to see the Doctor than to listen to me NAGGING. LOL
• United States
12 Feb 07
So glad to hear that you escaped the transfusion without the infection!!! But you are correct about the need for these emergency procedures to save lives and yet the possibility of the same livesaving procedure putting us in harm's way. It must have been very stressful for you to have to continually be tested and await that result...I understand about your disappointment in not being able to donate blood..I was very sick when I was in my early 20's (hundreds of year ago :))and during the illness my liver went into a state of jaundice and they told me never to donate blood again...I thought it odd, but they said it was the rule...even though I had no infectious disease. My mom was a wonderful blood donor..she gave on a regular schedule...I always admired her for that...and then I began and had to stop within 3 years .. Thank you for your concern of our family's stress during our medical crisis...it was indeed the most stressful thing I can ever remember living through...the nurses were my "rock"..they became friends and real life lines...we still today enjoy the friendship of 2 of them..one has travelled with us and come to visit many times...Life is Good...keep nagging your son...we all need to keep the vigilance about our health..we are our best advocates!!!
11 Feb 07
Thanks a lot for such an informative post, happy for your husband and son, Even one of my aquaintace was diagnosed with hepatitis C but at a later stage so it was all over by then.You are absolutely right in saying that we should get tested for it. Surely I will follow your advise.
• United States
14 Jun 07
I am hepatitis c positive and im 18. I found out I had it when i was 13 or 14. I havent gotten any treatment, and not sure if I will yet, at least not now. I get my liver checked every 4-6months, and my tests have always come back good. My liver seems to be in really good condition right now. Of course ill probably get treatment done, im just not sure if im ready for it yet..ive heard alot of bad things about treatment :(