January 8, 2014

My HCV Story by Debbie Cole

January 08, 2014

When I was pregnant for my son in 1992, I found out that my blood is O-. I had always thought it is O+. I decided that after my pregnancy I would be an active blood donor. I lived up to that promise until 2002. I gave my last blood donation to the Red Cross in February 2002. I was even a member of the O- Club the Red Cross has.

In May 2002 I went in the hospital for “simple” hernia surgery. I ended up having two pulmonary emboli, three major surgeries, prolonged hospital stays, days and weeks in the ICU, and numerous blood transfusions. I was closely monitored by my doctors and specialists months after my last hospital stay. I was on blood thinners for months, and so I would have to have my blood tested every couple weeks.

After about a year, my internist said that he was going to do a hepatitis test. He indicated that my liver enzyme levels had been steadily rising. I checked back with him a few weeks later, and he told me that I had Hepatitis C (HCV). I wasn’t too worried, and I said to him that all I had to do was to take some drugs and I would be okay. A friend of mine in the medical profession had hepatitis (later learned it was Hepatitis A), took medication, and was fine. My doctor said that I was

mistaken. HCV could be fatal, if left untreated. He referred me to a gastroenterologist. I read all I could about HCV, and I read about Naomi Judd, as she was someone I had heard about having HCV.

I went to my mother’s gastroenterologist…bad choice. He asked about my marital status (married, at the time) and risk factors. I told him that I had a rocky marriage and only risk factors were my blood transfusions. He told me that I didn’t get HCV from blood transfusions – he said blood supply is fine now. He said I must have gotten it from sleeping around (I have had only 1 sex partner in my life, and that was my husband). I was horrified and shocked. I was too shocked to say anything. He told me I was too fat to have a liver biopsy, as I would bleed. Need-less-to-say, I didn’t go back to him.

I found another gastroenterologist, and he believed that I probably received the virus through the blood transfusions. He set up the liver biopsy, and it was found that I had genotype 1. I ended up doing the combination therapy for a year. I responded immediately to treatment. I had days that were really rough, and the headaches were awful. My gastro had given me a prescription for an antidepressant early in the treatment, and I think that helped. I have been in remission since 2005!

I would like to help raise awareness for this disease, as I have learned that so many people are so ignorant about this disease.


  1. Wonderful outcome, sadly I still see prejudices and misconceptions.
    Thanks Debbie.

  2. Wow, that first doctor was nasty. They shouldn't be allowed to be doctors. I've had one like that. They make me so mad, though.
    good story. I'm glad that you're better. Do you feel okay now? Well, thank you for sharing your story. Bless your heart!!!

    1. I figure there are bad apples in every profession, but the majority are are good! I feel fine today. Forgetful, sometimes...I think that comes with age. Funny thing...when I was on the treatment, insects were attracted to me. I would break out and bites would become infected. My doctor was very concerned about this, and wrote the drug companies. Thank you!