Local doctors have an important warning tonight about a disease which can shut down your liver. Specialists at the University of Cincinnati say it often has no symptoms until it's in advanced stages.
Deb Havey and her husband Michael, who's a Lutheran minister, says *she* is one of the lucky ones. A routine blood test years ago -- alerted her medical team --something was drastically wrong.
"It came back that my potassium was so high I shouldn't be walking and my liver enzymes were way out of whack."
Eventually doctors discovered she had a rare disease which can shut down the liver called Primary Billiary Cirrosis.
"That's where the plumbing in the liver is affected by the immune system, her immune system see's the plumbing in her body, in her bile ducts and starts to destroy them. "
Doctor Guy Neff --a liver specialist says nobody's quite sure what causes this type of cirrosis. It is *not* the result of alcohol intake --and it often has no symptoms until it's in very advanced stages.
So the real question is, who should be tested and how would you know if you have this disease if at times it has no symptoms? Well Doctor Neff says many times it does manifest in those who've gained weight, or been overweight for a long time, if you've struggled with weight gain you you might want to go to your doctor and ask about further testing.
As Deb Havey knows -- testing may be the only way to find out something is wrong:
"I feel very blessed that they found it early."
For nearly two decades medications --and a healthy lifestyle --have helped keep her alive. If this disease is not properly managed, a liver transplant is required.
To see more of the interview with this doctor and patient, click on the attached link.