Meet our 2020 Texas LIVEr Ambassador, Shyam Patel
In January of 2001, I was born with biliary atresia, a liver disease in which the bile ducts inside and outside of the liver are scarred and obstructed. My parents found out when I was 1 week old. At the age of 2 weeks, weighing in at 5 pounds, I had surgery to remove the blocked bile ducts and create another way for the bile to drain out of my liver. My parents learned that there was no cure and were completely thrown into a life with liver disease.
I was sick and in and out of hospitals for the first three years of my life. After that, I stabilized and was able to live a relatively normal life. My parents always made sure to tell me exactly what was going on with my health and the routine tests that I had to have. I grew up knowing I had biliary atresia. I had a few restrictions in terms of physical activity, but I played competitive flag football, basketball and did well in school.
In the summer of 2016, while suffering from stomach pain my mom took me to the emergency room where it was discovered that I had cholangitis. I had a stent placed and had to start my sophomore year with a bile drain bag. It was during this time that I really started to become interested in my disease. My physician, a liver specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital was exceptional in helping me to understand what I was going through; I really started to think that I might want to pursue medicine in college.
I am currently a freshman in college pursuing a degree in Health Sciences. My parents always made sure that I was healthy and happy. My parents taught me that I am not defined by my liver disease. It’s a part of me, part of my story. It does not dictate who I am, but rather it has helped me decide who I would like to become.