Friday, October 12, 2012
Medical Reports: Hailey's Hope
Tonight, a health warning for South Florida. A young woman and a team of doctors want to get the word out about a life-threatening viral infection that many don't even know it. 7's Lynn Martinez has tonight's Medical Report, Hailey's Hope.
Hailey Schafer: "It keeps my mind busy."
It helps her escape a harsh reality. The young woman needs a new liver to live.
Hailey Schafer: "It's been really tough. Here I am at 20-years-old, living off disability and worrying about getting a liver transplant. When I wish I could have normal worries like going to college."
Liver cancer is very rare for someone Hailey's age, but the Miami Lakes woman has Hepatitis C, a viral infection that attacks the liver. Her mom passed the infection to her when Hailey born.
Hailey Schafer: "She passed away when I was about 11 or 12. I knew that she was suffering from liver failure, but as far as Hepatitis C, it never really occurred to me. I didn't even know what it was."
By the time Hailey started having symptoms at 17 it was too late, she had advanced liver disease.
Hailey Schafer: "I feel really bad for saying it, I'm literally waiting for somebody to pass away so I can get one of their organs."
Most people become infected with Hepatitis C by sharing needles. In the past, it was also spread through blood transfusions.
Dr. Aymin Delgado-Borrego: "In pediatrics the most common form is transmission from the mother to the child."
Doctors from the UM Miller School of Medicine just finished a study, which revealed Hepatitis C is a major health concern here in South Florida because many have no idea that have it.
Dr. Aymin Delgado-Borrego: "Only 11.7 percent in Florida expected to be infected with Hepatitis C had been identified. And what was even more worrisome, when we looked at Miami-Dade County and only 1.6 percent were receiving medical care."
Dr. Aymin Delgado-Borrego: "There are many children who are infected with Hepatitis C, and the vast majority of them do not know they have it. They're missing the opportunity to get treatment."
Doctors say Hepatitis C deaths outnumber HIV deaths but if caught early enough, there are life-saving treatments.
Dr. Aymin Delgado-Borrego: "We can cure more than 50 percent who are infected, and in the very near future we'll be able to cure a lot more."
The goal is to get more people who could be at risk tested.
Dr. Aymin Delgado-Borrego: "For example, if a mother is infected then all of her children should be tested."
Hailey's hope is to get a liver transplant very soon, and then one day be healthy enough to go to college.
Hailey Schafer: "In the past few years, I've wanted to be a psychologist. I think I can relate to people, I've been through a lot."
Doctors are testing new treatments to cure Hepatitis C that have less harsh side effects than current treatments.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Aymin Delgado-Borrego
UM Miller School of Medicine Pediatric Gastroenterologist