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The Australasian by NewsServices.com

Pathologist witnesses dramatic reversal of father’s liver condition

  • Written by The Australasian

Pathology Awareness Australia is urging Australians to look after their liver health and talk to their doctor about testing, as a pathologist and her father share their experience of narrowly avoiding liver damage.

Earlier this year, Mr Ghayoom Irandoost (77) was warned by his doctor that he was on a path to end-stage fatty liver disease.

Mr Irandoost had experienced significant weight gain in the years prior and had been feeling less energetic. His doctor referred him for liver function tests. The results showed abnormalities and he was referred to a specialist.

An article in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2020 predicts that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease deaths will increase by 85%, from 1,900 deaths in 2019 to 3,500 deaths in 20301. An estimated 1 in 3 Australians has fatty liver disease.

When Mr Irandoost’s doctor identified his liver issues, he quickly warned him of the life-long consequences if no immediate change was made to live a healthier lifestyle.

Mr Irandoost said, “The doctor told me I needed to go on a diet and lose weight. At first, I didn’t take it seriously, but a year later, the problem remained, and my doctor said I had reached a dangerous point and was on the edge [of irreversible liver damage]. It was then that I felt scared for my health.”

As an anatomical pathologist who examines organs and tissues ravaged by disease, his daughter Dr Parastoo Irandoost was concerned.

“When my dad’s doctor informed us about his fatty liver condition and the near future risk of cirrhosis, it honestly caught us by surprise. It was made very clear that if dad did not lose a significant amount of weight in the shortest amount of time possible, his fatty liver disease will reach its end stage (cirrhosis). A stage that is irreversible and can affect his life expectancy by 10 years or so.” Dr Irandoost said.

Fatty liver disease is a common condition, affecting 20-30% of the Australian population3. There are several contributing factors such as obesity and high alcohol intake, but people who are not obese or heavy drinkers can also develop the condition. Common issues such as a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and additional risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes can contribute to fatty liver disease, but many people are unaware of the condition. In the early reversible stages, there may be no symptoms.

Sally Castle, CEO of the Liver Foundation, said “Liver disease is not well understood in Australia, and it is estimated that many people with liver disease and damage are undiagnosed.

Liver disease is more common than people think, but many people in Australia are unaware of their risk. The good news is that the liver is remarkable, and damage can be entirely reversed if caught in the early stages.”

Left unchecked, fatty liver disease can lead to cirrhosis which stops the liver from functioning properly and eventually causes liver failure. The only long-term option for liver failure is a liver transplant. Cirrhosis can also lead to liver cancer.

Mr Irandoost underwent a liver biopsy to assess the course of the disease. The biopsy was sent to the lab where Dr Irandoost works, and with permission from her father, she was allowed to examine the slides alongside the reporting pathologist.

On examining her father’s biopsy, Dr Irandoost said“I was scared to look at the biopsy, thinking it will be cirrhotic and that I would have to break the bad news, but oh my god. It was completely normal. There was no fatty change, no fibrosis, nothing. We immediately called him and gave him the good news. He was so excited he threw a party that night and invited us all over for dinner!”

Mr Irandoost is living proof that early-stage fatty liver disease can be reversed, but only if detected and acted on quickly.

Sally Castle added “Mr Irandoost’s experience illustrates that severe liver damage is preventable, but we need to ensure that people know their risk, are being tested and take action on their test results. The Liver Foundation has a range of patient support resources to help people look after their liver.”

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgh.15009
  2. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/fatty-liver#:~:text=About%201%20in%203%20Australians,high%20cholesterol%20and%20high%20triglycerides
  3.  https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2021/215/2/prevalence-non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease-regional-victoria-prospective  

 

About Pathology Awareness Australia

Pathology Awareness Australia is a not-for-profit company formed to improve understanding and recognition of Australia’s world class pathology services.

The company represents 95% of the Australian pathology sector with members including the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, private pathology groups, public pathology groups, manufacturers and suppliers to industry, and professional groups. Pathology Awareness Australia runs the Know Pathology Know Healthcare initiative to educate Australians on the role of pathology in healthcare http://knowpathology.com.au/

 

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