Steve’s Story

My biggest regret is not taking the wake up call I had when I first saw my GP 8/9 years ago seriously enough, I’m not saying the damage might not have already been done, but a change of lifestyle could have made a big difference and I at least would not have had to go through the near fatal experience I had.

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STEVE's story

My story is probably like a number of others, I never really had any obvious symptoms but I was actually very ill. It was only after I was diagnosed that I could look back and think maybe this or that was due to the liver disease.

A number of years ago I had approached my GP about a personal issue. My GP did a number of blood tests which at the time did show a slight discrepancy with my liver function, although when repeated after a month the results had improved, I also had a scan of my abdomen, with nothing being highlighted as a concern at the time.

Over the years my stomach had grown but I just put it down to ageing and over eating. I did try to eat as healthy as I could but the odd bacon butty at the weekends and occasional cream in my coffee would slip through. Although not big into exercise I used to cycle the 3 miles to and from the station on a regular basis, and regular walks along the sea front at Hythe or Folkestone. I used to drink although due to the shifts I worked I would regularly have periods where I would abstain.

In April 2017 I suffered from a bad case of diarrhoea. I was picking my wife up in the car and, luckily, before I left the car park my eyesight became blurred and I could feel myself going to be sick. I managed to stop the car and before I could get out of the car I vomited a green fluid and passed out. My wife called for an ambulance and the paramedics checked me over. I had very low blood pressure but apart from that all seemed ok. I was admitted to A&E and following a CT of my head and various blood test I was allowed to go home. No diagnosis as to the cause was made apart from possibly being dehydrated from the diarrhoea, also low blood platelet levels were seen.

Following the normal procedure, I attended an assessment and had one chemo procedure. Things then happened very quickly. Even before I had been officially added to the waiting list I received a call from Kings that a possibly suitable liver was available. 

I had no more issues for a few months until at the end of a holiday in Menorca I collapsed in the departure lounge of Palma airport. I was then admitted to a hospital in Palma and detained for 4 days undergoing various tests and observations. Again nothing could be pin pointed as to the cause but I was advised to see my GP on return to the uk and to look into the low blood platelets.

On return to the uk in August 2017 I visited my GP who referred me to a consultant at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford. He sent me for a CT and Endoscopy procedures. During the Gastroscopy the surgeon carrying out the procedure decided to carry out a biopsy, unfortunately the biopsy was of a varix and I nearly bled out, I was placed into an induced coma whilst they attempted to stop the bleed. 16 units of blood and 2 days later I was transferred to Kings hospital London where they managed to stop the bleeding. The investigations that followed by the consultants at Kings led to the diagnosis that I had a cirrhotic liver that also had a number of cancerous areas.

Following the normal procedure, I attended an assessment and had one chemo procedure. Things then happened very quickly. Even before I had been officially added to the waiting list I received a call from Kings that a possibly suitable liver was available. I was ambulanced to the hospital only for, on inspection, to be told that the liver was not healthy enough. Only a few days later, on 8th Dec 2017, I again received the phone call and proceeded to Kings. This time the liver, from a cardiac death donor, was good and the transplant was carried out.

Recovery was quick, but unfortunately I contracted C.diff and this meant that I was not discharged until 23rd December.

I returned to work in Apr 2018 and I a have volunteered to do the London to Brighton Ultra Challenge, a 100 km walk over 2 days, for charity on the 25th/26th May 2019.

So far everything is going well I have my six-monthly check-ups at Kings and will be on the immunosuppressant medication for the rest of my life. But apart from that I am good. Post-transplant biopsy of my liver showed that the cancer was greater than thought before the transplant and that if I had been delayed in getting the new liver it could have been to late.

My biggest regret is not taking the wake up call I had when I first saw my GP 8/9 years ago seriously enough, I’m not saying the damage might not have already been done, but a change of lifestyle could have made a big difference and I at least would not have had to go through the near fatal experience I had.

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