Transplant patient joins calls to improve liver disease detection

Hilary Todd, from Woodton, near Bungay had a liver transplant as a result of symptoms that had not been diagnosed. 

Hilary Todd, from Woodton, near Bungay had a liver transplant as a result of symptoms that had not been diagnosed. - Credit: Hilary Todd

A Norfolk liver transplant patient has said earlier detection could have prevented the need for the operation amid calls to end the "postcode lottery" of how quickly patients are diagnosed for liver disease. 

Reseach by the British Liver Trust found only 26pc of the country had a formal structure of identifying people with liver disease, with Norfolk among the three quarters that do not.

The charity is calling for earlier detection and better patient care across the country, which has been supported by Hilary Todd, from Woodton, near Bungay.

The British Liver Trust reseach found three quarters of areas do not have an effective pathway for liver disease diagnosis.

The British Liver Trust reseach found three quarters of areas do not have an effective pathway for liver disease diagnosis. Areas in red have no pathway in place. Amber denotes areas with a partial pathway or pathway in development. Green areas have a full pathway in place. Areas in black did not respond. - Credit: British Liver Trust

Mrs Todd said by the time her non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) was picked up, treatments such as diet change and exercising were not possible and she needed a transplant. 

She was first hospitalised in 2008 after throwing up "a sinkful of blood" and was in a coma for three days. 


You may also want to watch:


NAFLD diagnosed at early stages does not usually cause any harm, but left untreated could lead to serious liver damage.

The condition worsened and became Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis (NASH), the most severe form of NAFLD, leading to a liver transplant in 2017.

Most Read

Mrs Todd said: "It was too late for me to be effectively treated through lifestyle advice and I was told I needed a liver transplant.

"However, my illness and the liver transplant could have been avoided if my condition had been picked up much earlier.

"Not everyone can [have a transplant] and there are not many organs about anyway."

The Norfolk resident has not drunk alcohol in more than 30 years and said it was important liver disease was not just associated with alcohol.

Pathway treatments are produced by each area's Clinical Commissioning Group.

A spokesperson for Norfolk and Waveney CCG said it welcomed any new research to help shape and support future services. 

Dr Helen Jarvis, clinical advisor for the British Liver Trust and lead author of its research, said a consistent approach to testing and diagnosing liver disease.

Sh said. "It shouldn’t be a postcode lottery.

“The liver is an incredibly resilient organ, but only up to a point. Symptoms of liver disease often only appear once damage has progressed and the liver is starting to fail. However, 90pc of liver disease is preventable and, in many cases, it’s reversable if caught in time. That’s why early detection and prevention are key.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter