My Experience: ‘There were concerns that I might have Alzheimer’s’
After being diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, the doctor said the only hope for me was a transplant
When I was diagnosed with the serious liver condition, cirrhosis of the liver, out of the blue at the age of 65, I was completely shocked. Like many people, I associated cirrhosis with heavy drinking but in my case, it was not alcohol-related and there was no family history.
A year or so before my diagnosis, my GP mentioned that I should get my liver checked out after a routine blood test, but I did not do anything about it. I was feeling fine and I wanted to do a transatlantic sail in the following two months.
Over that year, I started to deteriorate. My liver was not doing what it should be doing, spreading nutrients around the body and detoxifying. I had become bulky from retaining fluids and people were advising me to go to the GP.
My main difficulty was confusion. I could put on two shirts in the morning and not realise it. I was unaware that I was talking rubbish at times and ringing people in the middle of the night. There were concerns that I might have Alzheimer’s and I was sent to Cork University Hospital for tests.
I was admitted for three weeks and eventually diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver by Dr Orla Crosbie, a liver specialist. She explained that the only hope for me was a liver transplant and I agreed to be put on the transplant list. Within a few weeks, an appointment was arranged for me to meet a transplant co-ordinator and medical team at St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin to be assessed for transplant.
I was put on the waiting list in October 2012. Various tests and monitoring were carried out regularly in CUH and St Vincent’s right up to June of this year. During April, May and June, my health began to really dip.
My close friends did not think I would be around for Christmas. Looking back at photos now, I was heading that way. I was drawn and thin and looked like I had been sucked dry.
It was 9.50pm on Sunday, June 30th when the call came. I will never forget it. The transplant co-ordinator was on the other end of the phone. Her words to me were: “Mr Brady, we have a new liver for you.” I had been eagerly awaiting this call but I was so shocked, I could not speak for a few seconds. A friend was at my house within half an hour to drive me to Dublin.
There was a further phone call from the hospital advising that they were going to do the transplant as a donor liver was a good match. We headed for Dublin at 10.45pm. My daughter Kelly, who is a nurse, and was my rock of strength through all of this, came too.
We were taken straight to the preparation room when we arrived at the hospital where bloods were taken and an MRI and other tests were carried out. I was given a gown and much paperwork to sign and the anaesthetist came in for a pleasant chat. He told me he would do his best to fulfil my request that I have no pain.