One year ago, Sept 11th, Dr Fisher called to tell me Vincent had 1-2 months to live. His liver wasn't functioning and his kidneys were going as well. He was hospitalized with sepsis... and because he hadn't been a full 6 months sober they wouldn't refer him to OHSU...and he would NOT be a candidate for a transplant. I was alone...beside myself, processing what she was saying. That was a very hard moment. It was life or death now.
After a complete meltdown...I looked up the head of OHSU's Hepatologist department. That's when I first found Dr. Joseph Ahn's information and the wonderful crew at OHSU. Later that night Vincent's mom Lisa arrived. The next morning we called OHSU directly. We spoke with Tiffany at the front desk. She could hear the panic and worry in our voices...basically pleading for his life.
Since his diagnosis of Cirrhosis of the liver in late May we followed all doctors instructions. We both weened off of alcohol, made diet changes...high protein, no sodium. The last alcoholic drink either of us had was June 23rd, 2021. Vincent was throwing up blood and passing blood in his stool. He always looked better than he actually was. The next day he was hospitalized for bleeding esophageal varices. They preformed an upper endoscopy. Banding varicose veins that had enlarged and/or ruptured inside his esophagus, a side effect of a dying liver. A very frightening procedure. If the vein is ruptured and blood pressure is high he would quickly bleed out...and there is no way to stop the bleeding. Thankfully his blood pressure was low and the bleeding was containable. However, in most cases people will not survive if greatly ruptured. He had to sign a resuscitation disclaimer before the procedure as the nurse stated "we do not have good success rates."
The first upper endoscopy was successful. They were able to band the veins (similar to castrating a bull) and the banded area fall off and heal the esophageal wall...followed by a week of antibiotics and to be followed up every few weeks. The second, and this time planned, procedure brought more varices that needed banding. However, this time no antibiotics were given. Although his throat was sore he seemed to have 2 good days until he came down with a 103+ fever and legs broke out in red petechia (blood vessel rash). He was hospitalized the next day for sepsis. A serious blood infection and specific bacteria that originated from the esophageal surgery and had no immune system or antibiotics to ward off the sepsis that was now attacking everything and this his kidney numbers began to decline. That is what lead to that horrible phone call. Which inevitably began the REAL plan to save his life...enter OHSU.