My name is Colin Fitzpatrick. I am 54 years old. I have the Hepatitis C virus. I was diagnosed with it in September 2001, having contracted it from a life saving blood transfusion in 1979. I was showing symptoms which I could not explain, but following a visit to my GP and a subsequent blood test, my GP informed me I had the virus.I was not really shocked by his news, as I did not know what Hepatitis C was. I was really only aware of the "high profile" illnesses like cancer, MS, leukaemia etc.
However, when I went to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and met Dr Callender, he spelled things out and I then realised that I was in a very serious situation. Coming to terms with my condition took some time.
I will not go into all the details of medical experiences, but I was given a chance to try a combination treatment to eradicate the virus. I was on this for twelve months, from June 2004 until May 2005. For me the treatment did not work.
In September 2005 I began to feel really ill. I was admitted to the Royal Hospital on Boxing Day 2006. It was then that Dr Neil McDougall became my consultant.
I was diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C and liver cirrhosis. Dr McDougall then told me that I had the option of a liver transplant.
In February 2006 I went to King's College Hospital, London for a Transplant Assessment. This takes about a week to complete.
I returned to Belfast and one of my liver function tests (LFT's) began to improve. The result was that I was not put on the transplant waiting list. I will not be considered for the list until all my LFT's are at a certain level. This cannot be helped as the number of donors on the Donor Register is low.
It would be very easy to get very depressed about my situation, but I have great support from my family and friends. I must thank all the Committee Members of the RVH Liver Support Group, based at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, all of whom have given me unstinting support all through my illness. Here I give a special mention to Gordon Cave. He has been and is a very special friend and has helped me tremendously. Also, Seamus Cunningham I value as a very good friend.
At the moment I am in reasonably good health and try to keep myself busy.
If anyone is concerned about Hepatitis C or if you have it, please contact Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org who will set up a meeting or phone call so that you may speak to me about the illness.
And finally, no matter how bad the situation, it is never as black as it seems!