According to a report on KATU, hemochromatosis (an overload of iron in the blood with a hereditary cause) is the most common genetic disease in America—but it’s also widely misdiagnosed. A local man, Jeff Williams, is fighting to change that after he nearly died from the disease. When he was first admitted to the hospital in 2008 doctors said he had cirrhosis of the liver from being an alcoholic,and was going through alcohol withdrawal.
The doctors were wrong, and their mistake almost cost Jeff Williams his life.
According to Mr. Williams and his family, he wasn’t a heavy drinker—in fact, had not even had a drink in the weeks leading up to his admittance at the hospital, where he spent six days in a coma. He was also diagnosed with diabetes at the hospital during his ICU stay. As soon as he got out of the hospital, Williams started doing his own research with a friend who is a doctor in an attempt to determine why he had been diagnosed with cirrhosis and diabetes at the same time, and came across information for hemochromatosis. The symptoms? Diabetes and cirrhosis.
Due to his own initiative, Jeff Williams got the blood tests that confirmed toxic levels of iron were damaging his internal organs and causing severe, permanent damage to his liver and pancreas. Mr. Williams could be dead today if he didn’t self-diagnose his own hemochromatosis. It is a good reminder that doctors and hospitals can make mistakes.
Read more about his story in The Washington Post.