By Luqman Temitayo Onikosi
The last few month, I have been feeling like a child who has just discovered a candy Never-land as regards medical monitoring of my liver deterioration and newly invented liver multi scanner by an Asian British doctor.
Before I begin, I will like to disclaim that I am not a health tourist who has parachuted into the UK in search of free NHS treatment. I became ill part-way through a legitimate course of study for my Undergraduate course at the University of Sussex and a legitimate stay in the UK approved by the Home Office.
Never the less, After my experience at the trial of the new invention by Perspectum Diagnostics Ltd, I have decided to share my experience. It is not entirely a good news for me but it is great to know that there is new advancement medicine to monitor liver. However, perhaps you might benefit from it. Or perhaps this invention might cast a little ray of light in the dark tunnel of struggle with liver disease.
As some of you might know, in 2008, while in the UK, I began to feel unwell. After a series of tests I was diagnosed with the blood-borne virus hepatitis B
in the month of August, 2009. I have no idea how I contracted it although it might have been from sharing razor blades back in Nigeria. Tragically my two brothers also contracted the disease and died from it. It is hard to describe what a huge impact their loss has had on my life.
Everything changed thereon. Unfortunately my condition is quite advanced and so my only option for long-term survival is a liver transplant. In the meantime my condition needs to be closely monitored, medically. The treatment I need to keep me alive is not available in Nigeria
. Despite the fact that the chronic liver condition I and my two brother suffered, the liver condition has caused me a debilitating symptoms such as sickness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, itchy skin, weakness of the limbs, loss of appetite, constipation leading to severe painful bleeding and discomfort over the liver area and, if untreated, leads very quickly to the loss of life.
Many times, I have thought of returning to Nigeria to my mother, who has already endured the emotional and psychological torture of losing two sons so that she can watch her third son die too, is unbearable. So I decided to dug myself in and stay to fight for rights to life.
There are over 400 million people world wide living with Hepatitis B and C. According to WHO
, an estimated two billion people worldwide have been infected with hepatitis B virus and more than 360 million have chronic (long-term) liver infections. About 620 000 people die every year as a result of hepatitis B virus infection. Some 150 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus, and more than 350 000 people are estimated to die from hepatitis C-related liver diseases each year. In total, over 1.4 million people that would be lost to the virus this year alone.
in Africa, the Society for Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Nigeria (SOGHIN
), estimated over 23 million
infected with hepatitis in Nigeria alone. It kills 11 Nigerians
daily and thousands of people yearly.
Compare to just 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Yet , these Hepatitis viruses which is 50 to 100%
more infectious that HIV/AIDS can be prevented permanently by simple three shots of vaccination.
The reason HIV/AIDS has been to muster a lot of attention from the scientific and pharmaceutical and NGO communities globally, is simply because in the 1980s when the the virus first registered with the scientific world. Or perhaps I should say what actually made it registered with the scientific communities, firstly, was because of the celebrities world, societies dominated by White celebrities, which the HIV/AIDS rocked particularly in the US. Secondly, after the money flowed towards the research to save this virus killing white celebrities, the pharmaceutical companies suddenly realized that there is a vast market for the drug in Africa, which become the financial incentive.
So, in essences, what drove the pharmaceutical to find a cure for HIV/AIDS was not for the love to save the poor Black African that mysteriously popped up in African, who had been, for many millennial, living side by side Simian Immunodeficiency Viruses (SIVs) retroviruses able to infect at least 45 species of African non-human primates but not African.
In any case, Hepatitis and the Liver was pushed to the back-burner in the scientific priority. The liver which is the largest gland, and the largest solid organ in the body, weighing some 1.8 kg in men and 1.3 kg in women. Despite, it holds approximately 13% (about one pint or 0.57 litres) of your total blood supply at any given time and has over 500 functions. Yet, it is the least scientifically understood organ in the human body. Hence, far fewer people do not realized that there is no one definitive medical monitoring method of the deterioration rate of liver functionality. This is compounded by the mysteriousness of Hepatitis virus.
In my case, between every 6 months before my health is reviewed, I had to do CT scan, MRI scan, Ultrasound scan, liver biopsy, blood test (to look for Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), Aspartarte aminotransferase (AST), Alkaline phosphatase (ALP),Gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT or ‘Gamma GT’), Bilirubin, Albumin, Clotting studies, i.e. prothrombin time (PT) or international normalised ratio (INR)), E antigen blood test for my viral count,abdominal X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, computed tomography (CT scan) of the abdomen or liver.
The problem with this kind of monitoring is that it is done at different times during the window of the 6 months. Partly because the tests can not all be fitted under single appointments. Therefore, individual evidence of layered and over lapping deterioration cannot be aligned. Most crucially, all these deterioration can not be photographed or X-rayed from a colour overview.
That is why I partook in the Multi-scan liver machine in Oxford last week.
The comparison of the multi-scan machine in contrast to the combined test I have to do every 6 monthly is like the analogy of satellite in space taking archaeological Xrayed picture of evidence submerged under the earth of particular terrain, for example a particular plot of land near the Pyramid. Compared to an archaeologist observation picture taken from standing on top the pyramid by using a common everyday photo camera.
In addition, although this new experimental Multiscan machine does not entirely do, collect nor align all the information that all other test or scan I mentioned above does, but it can collect 4 main information from my liver under 15 minutes and aligns them, provide colorful overview picture of the deterioration inside and above my liver like a satellite does when scan through terrain for submerged archaeological traces.
The four cardinal information collected are Inflation in the liver and Fibrosis, Iron overload and fat. The picture attached that you would be seeing is the picture of the four region of my liver. For every region, information for Inflation in the liver and Fibrosis, Iron overload and fat are provided in a very colorful detail. On the page titled ‘statistic summary’, there is a sliding scale from Blue to Red. Blue mean very healthy and red means very bad (Fibrosis/Cirrhosis (liver cancer).
Also, a pie chart is provided for each of the region to indicate what percentage of my liver overall, is very bad, that is red or very good that is green.
This is the first time I have seen the combined overview, aligned and very colorful X-ray of my Liver that provided information for more that one deterioration that have significant impact of my liver functionality.
This is definitely one of the most enormous benefit of ways in which my life could be saved if I am allowed to stay in the UK especially to access medical monitoring equipment for my liver. Click here to see a copy of my Liver Multiscan
Please let me know what you think in the comment box. If you are interested, I will be happy to Andy Mckay one of the researcher that is conducting the Liver Multi Scan trials.