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Las Vegas Man Spreads Awareness with Story of Life-Saving Liver Transplant

Las Vegas Man Spreads Awareness with Story of Life-Saving Liver Transplant
courtesy KVVU

courtesy KVVU

In honor of Men's Health Week, Angelo Reyes, a dad living with hep B, shares his story in hopes of inspiring others to take their health more seriously.

By Shawna Khalafi, LAS VEGAS, Nevada (KVVU) -- In recognition of Father’s Day and Men’s Health Week, a Las Vegas dad is sharing his story of a life-saving organ transplant, in order to spread awareness and inspire other men to take their health seriously.

“My son and my wife had to rush me to Mountain View Hospital here in Las Vegas, and within 48 hours during that July 4th weekend, I found out that I had less than 30 days to live because I had end life liver failure,” said Angelo Reyes.

Angelo started having symptoms around Father’s Day last year: yellow eyes and skin and feeling tired. Within a month, he found out his liver was failing at just 47 years old.

“Someone like me, who, I’ve been a martial artist all my life, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand how someone who led a healthy lifestyle could be this sick this fast,” he said.

Angelo learned he had Hepatitis B, which, according to the CDC, affects almost 70 percent of Asian-Americans born outside the U.S., like Angelo.

The only way to save his life was a liver transplant.

“I pretty much spent a lot of that week praying, hoping for a miracle, but really I was starting to say my goodbyes to everyone because I honestly didn’t think I was even going to be here right now,” said Angelo.

Angelo found a group of non-profit doctors from House Medicine, based in California, who fought for his case and helped him jump the transplant waitlist.

Angelo received his new liver on July 16 last year.

He says life post-transplant has been a blessing but has had its challenges. “We can only eat up to 80 percent of the food that we used to be able to eat. There are so many different restrictions for us because we’re always immune-compromised. Our white blood cell counts are so low that at any given point we can get sick, so we oftentimes feel extremely isolated.”

Angelo says support groups, like Donor Network West, based in Reno, have helped him with mental health struggles as a transplant recipient.

Now, during what he calls his second chance at life, Angelo has teamed up with the organization to spread awareness about organ donation and to encourage men, minorities, and everyone to take their health seriously.

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