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Speaking Personally: My Untold Story

From Ghana

I used to hear people tell their stories about how they have received their breakthrough for their health-related issues and I marvel. I became so excited and wonder if I would ever meet such a breakthrough.

It was on one fateful day in 2007, during my 2nd year of education, when I decided to voluntarily donate blood to help save the lives of pregnant mothers who get complications during deliveries.

Confidently, I walked into the blood bank to get my blood tested. Everything was OK until the lab technician called out my name and told me they cannot let me complete the process because my blood was ‘incompatible.’  He handed me a fact sheet on viral hepatitis. I felt so confused and didn’t know what to do. I thought I would be referred to see a physician for counseling but no, nothing.

Not knowing what to do, I decided to educate myself on the disease. So I went online, read through several articles and documents on hepatitis B and its management. I learnt about the need to avoid alcoholic beverages, smoking, and ensure I always eat a well-balanced diet to boost my immunity. I did this for close to two years.  

Finally, somewhere in 2009, I took another test which revealed that I was in the chronic stage of the infection. Even the health professionals at that facility couldn’t explain what that really meant. I got totally confused and didn’t know if I was going to die or not.  

I have been alive just by grace. I say this because, I do not show any sign or symptoms of the infection and this most times gives me hope. My last medical checkup was in 2010. I had my blood drawn and tested for liver function and HBV tests. The results were good.

Life afterwards has been manageable. I live in a community and country where the level of awareness of hepatitis B is very low. The majority of the people are ignorant about the situation. I have lost some family members as a result of the disease.

It was through my regular search for more information when I came across the Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana. I was so excited and impressed about their work and who they seek to represent. I read several of their works and felt they could help me transform the mindset of the people within my community and the nation as a whole.  

I was happy about the swift response with which they responded to my mail and followed up with a call. I no longer feel left alone. I now feel I have someone whom I could call upon for any information or seek clarification concerning my situation. Not only me, but for my community too. I know my story might not be so different from yours, or perhaps, yours might be worse than mine. I want to assure you that, there is always a way out! Seek information from the right source and be responsible for your life.

This story was given to Theobald Owusu-Ansah, founder and president of Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana, who gave us permission to reprint it for our readers. Theobald started his foundation in 2007 after four of his family members died from hepatitis B. The Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana is a nonprofit patient advocacy organization that seeks to promote awareness, to educate the public about prevention and treatment options, and to provide care and support to the infected and affected people in Ghana. For more information, visit www.hepatitisghana.org