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LLC 2013 Thomas Carley Liver Champion LIVEr Champions are the heroes who fight a personal battle with liver disease. Liver Life Challenge team members train in honor of patients like Thomas, our National LIVEr Champion.

Meet Thomas Carley this year’s Liver Life Challenge LIVEr Champion. Thomas is a Hepatitis C survivor and liver transplant recipient. 

As a child Thomas endured severe bouts with stomach and leg pains. Doctors were unable to find a cause and no other symptoms were present. Thomas and his family began referring to the discomfort that he experienced as “growing pains.”  The mysterious condition continued off and on through Thomas’ teenage years. As he got older he began to cope with the pains and spoke of them less often.

During Thomas’ senior year of high school he lost nearly 40 pounds in one month.  Through a series of tests doctors diagnosed Thomas with mononucleosis; however the doctors did take note of an enlarged liver and spleen.  Thomas made what appeared to be a full recovery and life continued on as it had always been.  He did not think about his liver again for many years, even as he continued to deal with the growing pains. 

The pains came to a head on Thomas’ 22nd birthday.  He was visiting his older sister’s house when his skin began to turn yellow and he experienced unbearable pains in his stomach. He was rushed to the hospital.  It was during that visit that doctors diagnosed him with Non-A, Non-B Hepatitis. It would be another year before the doctors officially diagnosed him with Hepatitis C.

Soon after his diagnosis Thomas had his first liver biopsy.  The results showed that he had stage-four liver cirrhosis. About this diagnosis Thomas said, “I thought this was not possible. I had always taken care of my body. I always ate the right foods and took my vitamins. I never put an illegal drug in my body and I was always active and exercised.”  Thomas is still unsure of how he contracted Hepatitis C, but it became clear that it was a disease he had been battling since he was a young child.  The “growing pains” now had a name.

Over the next eight years Thomas went through multiple rounds of interferon treatments. He was added to the transplant list and kept fighting.  By August of 2009 his body was beginning to fail. After a month long stay in hospital Thomas checked out on September 5, 2009 and went home to spend time with his family.  He did not sleep at all that night as he wrestled with the uncertainty of his future. The very next morning he received a call that he was a match for a liver that was available.  Thomas received his transplant on September 6, 2009.

Today Thomas is happy and healthy!  In 2012, he ran the Walt Disney World® Half Marathon as part of the American Liver Foundation’s Liver Life Challenge team.  In August 2013 he will participate in the the Tough Mudder New England event!  When asked why he runs for the American Liver Foundation he said, “When I was first told that I had liver disease I was scared, but also uninformed.  It was through the American Liver Foundation that I gained the knowledge I needed.” 

Join us in thanking and congratulating Thomas Carley for sharing his story and providing hope and inspiration to the millions of Americans battling liver disease.

Liver disease directly touches the lives of 30 million Americans, more than the combined population of the 15 largest U.S. cities. Nearly 100 liver diseases affect men, women, and children of every age and ethnicity from every social and economic background.

Whether you are training in honor of Thomas or a personal LIVEr Champion, when you participate on the Liver Life Challenge team, you will make a difference in the lives of those with liver disease.

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