Today, at the beginning of the New Year, I (along with many other music fans) are mourning the death of the singer Natalie Cole. I plan to blog more about her tomorrow for my Music Monday feature.
The cause of death - a variety of ills, including congestive heart failure and a reoccurrence of a liver condition called Hepatitis C. The Hep C was linked to drug abuse from earlier in her life.
A tragic end, too soon, to another music talent. Ms. Cole was only two years older than I am.
I want to blog a little about Hepatitis C, because a friend from years ago died when she couldn't get a liver transplant. She never revealed why her liver had been destroyed, but hepatitis (there is more than one type) may have been the reason. She was only in her late 50's. She was on a transplant list but a liver was not available in time.
Hep C is the silent killer and yet it can be detected with a blood test. It is not curable at this time, but there are treatments (some treatments better than when Natalie Cole was first diagnosed). And, if there is any suspicion that you may have contracted it - for example, if you received a blood transfusion prior to 1992 - you owe it to yourself and your family to get tested.
Which brings me back to Natalie Cole.
As a side effect of her treatment, her kidneys were impaired and she had to start dialysis. In 2009, she was fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant. Many people needing organ transplants, though, never receive them.
It is estimated that 12 people in the United States die each day while waiting for a kidney transplant.
For liver transplants, in 2012, there were over 16,000 on the United States lists.
We tend to think that organ failure is the "fault" of the person involved. But, in many cases, that is not at all true. It isn't true for a family member with kidney disease, and only time will tell what the outcome for this person will be.
The death of Natalie Cole has lessons for all of us. Sadly, though, I doubt those lessons will be learned. And, to me, the saddest part is that we don't seem to pay attention until a celebrity dies.
I hope that Natalie Cole's death starts a national discussion about certain diseases, and ways that our country can improve availability of hearts, kidneys, livers, and other organs that we have the ability to transplant.
Do you have personal experience, or a family member, with a condition leading to an organ transplant?