Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. And research shows that people who have body piercings have an increased risk of the infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated, which is recommended for people of all ages.
According to Dr. Teperman, when Smith arrived at the hospital with the hepatitis B-caused liver failure, she only had a few days left to live. "The survivability for anyone who gets like this—and this includes every acute liver failure—is around 25%. But hers was at maybe less than .05%. She was going to die. There's no question," he said in an interview with Northwell Health.
Dr. Teperman says that he's actually seen an increase in the number of people experiencing liver failure. "I think this has to do with people not coming into the hospital readily enough, early enough to get treated," he told CBS.
According to the Mayo Clinic, someone should get medical help if their skin or eyes suddenly become yellow, if their upper abdomen is tender, or if they have any unusual changes in mental state, personality, or behavior—all of which can be signs of acute liver failure.
Smith was released from the hospital at the end of January and is making her story known now to encourage others to not put off medical care. She says she's thankful that she went to the hospital, even with her hesitation about going to because of the pandemic. "Even with COVID going on, you should still go get checked out because you never know. That one decision saved my life," she told CBS. "I thought it was just a stomach virus or just something with my stomach. I never would have thought my liver was failing, and there was a chance… that I might not have been here today."
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