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Home > Patients & Families > Liver Champions > Shelley Rossell

Shelley Rossell

In January 2009, I donated blood for the first time, and just a month later, I received a letter from the American Red Cross. Basically, they told me “Thanks, but no thanks! You have hepatitis C, see your doctor.”

I was devastated.

I knew very little about Hep C, but I did know it was a blood-borne virus. I wracked my brain to come up with how I was infected, when I recalled that I’d had several transfusions when I was born. I questioned how I possibly could have gone nearly forty years without realizing I had a chronic illness. The answer was simple: testing for hepatitis C is not routine, and it’s a slow-moving illness. Only since 2012 has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all baby boomers (people born between 1945 and 1965) be tested for hepatitis C.

Without being specifically tested for the virus, I probably wouldn’t have been diagnosed until there was serious liver damage. Routine bloodwork showed normal liver function. I hadn’t shown any symptoms, even though further testing showed initial liver damage.

Until recently, if you were diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C, the available treatment options were lengthy with side effects and had only about a 50 percent success rate. Today’s treatment options are targeted, with minimal side effects and over 90 percent success rate. Those treatment options cured me this year, after I’d failed treatment in 2010.

Chronic hepatitis C causes cirrhosis and liver cancer and is currently the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. Thanks to testing and new treatments, that’s not my future anymore! If you’re a baby boomer, please ask your doctor about getting tested for hepatitis C. It takes nothing more than a simple blood test.
You can learn more about hepatitis C by visiting the American Liver Foundation at www.liverfoundation.org.

Work with your health care team and work to stay positive. There is hope!


Related Terms: New Jersey

Page updated: January 13th, 2017

 

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