Sarah’s Story: Pregnancy, undiagnosed hep C, and a healthy baby

I got a letter back in 2002 that I was one of the ones with hep C from a blood transfusion in 1984. It was a general letter and no more information was given. I remember asking my family doctor back in Ontario and her exact words were “You’ll be fine; Pamela Anderson has lived with it, so has our mayor Mel Lastman”. She spoke to me about treatment which at the time was injecting yourself with needles and it was a case study. No confirmation or further information was provided. There was no follow-up care for hep C.

When I got pregnant I started having elevated heart rates (when my doctor would take my pressure during my visits here in Alberta). That led to me throwing up all the time, after meals. There would be traces of blood in my vomit. After a week or so, it came to the point where my stool started to smell like blood, it had a coffee bean colour. I started to become constipated, and throwing up, at that point I couldn’t keep anything down.

One day I woke up and threw up blood, just blood. I didn’t know what to do, and my husband was in BC at the time. Then another time, and another time, to the point where I was so weak I asked my neighbour to take me to the hospital. Immediately the nurse saw I was feeling ill and they listened to baby’s heart beat and took my blood. No one told me what was happening, and I threw up a fifth time.

In the hospital, again, all blood. All of a sudden, a bunch of people and a transport bed come into my room. The EMS transport guy told me “Your hemoglobin is low, you’re bleeding from the inside we just don’t know where”. I called my husband right away and he didn’t know what to say; he was shocked like I was.

When I got transferred to Lethbridge they had to give me a blood transfusion and since my blood type is rare, they actually had to find it. They tried an endoscopy on me but were unsuccessful. They had to transfer me to Calgary for emergency surgery to close my varices.

I was under supervision by my hematologist and the discharge doctor. While I was in the hospital a little over a week I had 3 endoscopies, and they were so uncomfortable.

During my diagnosis and stay at the hospital. When I was told it’s from my hep C and cirrhosis I was given a weird look. They have never seen a case like this before and they were probably thinking I wasn’t being honest at how I got my hep C. They wanted me to come back and stay at the hospital because they were scared for another bleed. That didn’t happen. We went back weekly for monitoring. It was a crazy long, difficult, and financially hard time.

My son was born at 36+6 weeks via c section and is hep C negative.

I recently treated, and I am now free of hep c, but I do have cirrhosis.

If you have been tested, seek out care if you haven’t already. If you have not been tested and think you may have a risk, get tested and hep C is curable.

Resources that may help:
If your story has similarities to Sarah’s, or you want to learn more, these links may help:

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