Diagnosed with Hep C in 1994
Because of severe depression, all I ever wanted in life was to die. That wish almost came true in 1983 when I lost 60 percent of my blood after a suicide attempt. I believe that the transfusions I received were tainted with hepatitis C because 12 years later, I was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease. After four years on the transplant list, I received a liver. I underwent more than 18 hours of surgery, during which the surgery was stopped three times because of life-threatening emergencies. My fight to come back was worse than any fight in my life.
The first six months after the transplant, I was hospitalized every other week. I was in the intensive care unit half the time. My God, what an ordeal! I was on Bactrim for seven months, and when my doctor finally took me off it, I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. However, I learned that I was insulin-dependent because of the transplant and that the virus was still present because it’s a blood-borne disease. I just wanted to die all over again. The first round of interferon left me virus-free but made me so sick, treatment was stopped.
Who did I have to blame, really? Just myself and a never-ending death wish. No one else—no one! Now I am desperately trying to get onto one of the newest drugs that cure nearly everyone. All I want today is to be rid of the virus. Just to stop the progression of cirrhosis and save what’s left of my graft. I was transplanted at 48 and so far I’ve outlived the typical life expectancy. I would love to get rid of the virus and then live to be a ripe old age. No more death wishes or anything like that; just a normal, quiet life, sane and normal. The end of all the drama!
What three adjectives best describe you?
Hopeful, trusting, gullible
What is your greatest achievement?
Outliving the wait for a new liver
What keeps you up at night?
Thinking about the transplant
If you could change one thing about living with viral hepatitis, what would it be? I would change NOT living with it!
What is the best advice you ever received?
“Trust me! We’ll get you a liver!” (said by my surgeon)
What person in the viral hepatitis community do you most admire?
The first person I met that had a liver transplant
What drives you to do what you do?
Knowing there will be a cure
What is your motto?
Keep your head down—that way no one will see if your neck is dirty!
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
I’d be my cat; he’s the best-treated animal in the world.