LIVEr Champion

2019 Liver Champion Debbie Plante

This Survivor’s Story

My journey begins in 1974 when I was 21 years old; I’d call myself a naive, happy go lucky individual. Then life hit me; I had a miscarriage during which I lost a lot of blood, resulting in several life-saving blood transfusions. As a result, as I like to say, I received a lovely parting gift upon my release from the hospital – Hepatitis!!

Startlingly, Hepatitis C was not discovered until the late 80s and was not tested for in the blood supply until 1992; it wasn’t until the early 2000’s, many years later, I learned that I had Hep C. When I was diagnosed, treatments were few and far between. I did, eventually, find a doctor who was willing to try the newest treatment available, though we approached treatment with very little hope given the minimal success rates at the time. I began treatment; what should have been an 18-month course of treatment, turned into almost 2 ½ years on medications, which left me virus free. While, at long last, I was cured, I was still left with the impact of having been infected for so long: cirrhosis. My liver was destroyed and I began to experience symptoms of liver failure, like esophageal varices, among others.

In the coming years, I was watched very carefully by my doctor for changes. While things from 2007 on remained pretty stable, in early 2018 things started to go VERY sideways. I declined rapidly and, in September of 2018, received a liver transplant. The new liver I received was working perfectly from the get go.

But my new liver came with a hitch—Hep C—my old friend back AGAIN!!! This felt like a setback, considering I had already conquered the virus with a long, nasty treatment. While a setback, thanks to research and progress in available treatments, it was only a minor one. Only 3 short months after transplant, I found myself, once again, on Hep C treatments. Thankfully, after the first month on medication, I was testing negative for the virus. As of this writing, I am awaiting my final test to proclaim me cured of Hep C, again. All signs point to good, that I have beaten the virus. What was once an unwelcome visitor, a death sentence, now is treatable and curable, allowing me to receive a healthy liver AND be virus free.

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