Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease/Cirrhosis

My name is David Ray and I’m 36 years old and I live in Connecticut. I have a beautiful wife and two amazing young boys 11 and 13. My life has had its ups and downs, but the hardest down I had was when I lost my father.

My father died in a tragic motorcycle accident with me being one of the first ones on the scene. My father was my hero! We worked together and my family lived across the street from my parents. I couldn’t wait for the moment for him to see my kids born because he loved kids so much. He died two weeks before my oldest son was born. We had my first son and it was such an amazing day and life changing experience. We named him after my father so he could proudly know where his name came from.

We then decided to have a second child after a short amount of time. My father’s passing still had a huge effect on my life and I gained a tremendous amount of weight and was not healthy. My second son was born at 29 weeks at 2lbs 15.5ozs.  We had to move our lives around as he spent over a month in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).

We lived the next seven years raising our family and enjoying every minute of it. I didn’t think much about my weight or health during this time. I was diagnosed with a fatty liver and my weight became out of control when I hit 352 pounds. I started going to the doctors in 2016 to figure out why I felt so tired and not well all the time. I went to numerous doctors until I found that I had liver cirrhosis. It was devastating! How did I let myself get here is the only thought I had.

My biggest fear is leaving my wife and kids because I know how difficult it could be for them. I went through it and how could I possibly let them experience what that feels like. I want to be the role model they need and their hero like my father was to me when I was young. I want to see them get married and have kids. I want to be the grandfather who spoils his grandkids.

I continued going to doctors, I was then told one of the ways I could help myself was losing weight. I decided the next day at 352 pounds that I was going to make every effort to lose weight. I started eating a high protein and low carbohydrate diet. I then started walking and hiking. My family loved seeing me active and enjoying myself. I would bring one of my sons for a morning walk on the weekends and we would talk for a few hours as we would walk six to seven miles.

I’ve lost 120 pounds and I feel much healthier and I no longer have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, yet I still have cirrhosis. I started going to Yale during my weight loss. I found out that I needed a liver transplant. They started testing me to be on the UNOS list because my MELD score was high. I got through all the testing and found out I was just under the MELD score to be on the list.

I could continue to live life, but had to be at the hospital quite often for checkups. I went for one of my checkups and found out that I had more complications associated with the cirrhosis that affected my body. It was bad enough that I’m now on the UNOS list and now need a liver transplant. We have a liver shortage, especially in Connecticut. I’m on the waiting list, but I’m not expected to get a liver anytime in the near future unless I become sicker. It’s so bad that one out of five will die before they receive a liver transplant. The waitlist is 900+ and growing. I’m still committed to keeping my self-healthy and doing all I can to not give up. I urge you to stand strong and not let this disease win if you have it. Educate others so they know the seriousness of liver disease and how to prevent it if possible.

If you’re a patient fighting through this disease then have courage. I urge you to stand strong and not let this disease win. If you a members of the liver community then educate others so they know the seriousness of liver disease and how to prevent it if possible.

*Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) has been newly renamed metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD).

Last updated on January 18th, 2024 at 11:02 am

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