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CLICK HERE FOR NATALIE COLE'S VIDEO INTERVIEW
A discussion with Larry King about her need for kidney transplantation after only 4 mo. of hepatitis C treatments!

 


Donald's Story
By Donald

In 1984, after a routine examination to determine levels of a medication I was taking for another life threatening condition, I was notified that the results reflected increased liver function values. The doctor recommended that I have a liver biopsy and I refused as I had been told by other doctors that the increased levels were due to the Dilantin that I had to take for seizure control. I have lifted weights since age ten years, swam on a daily basis and eat a diet high in protein and amino acids. I felt well and was active playing basketball regularly, but occasionally when having bloodwork done the results would report low blood sugar levels.

In November of 1997 after more blood tests, the doctor reported that I had hepatitis C and since my insurance had changed he could not treat me because the cost was prohibitive. To my astonishment he recommended that I find another doctor for treatment. I was left feeling angry, and depressed, not so much that I had the condition, but because I have two other fatal conditions, and because I could not get treatment.

My insurance company, NYLCARE was no help at all. Their representatives were short with me and made inappropriate referrals, such as the time I was referred to an oncologist who knew nothing about hepatitis C and did not treat liver conditions. Then there is the liver specialist, Dr. Galleeb who became angry because I requested that office visits be limited to situations that could not be addressed over the phone because of the way that I work. She became angry and though she was willing to perform the biopsy for money and made sarcastic comments while doing so, she did not bother to call and give me the results. She took two weeks vacation after the procedure and never offered any treatment.

When I began seeing this doctor I was asymptomatic and now after not receiving treatment I fall asleep everywhere, suffer fatigue, have swollen ankles, knees and shoulders, and suffer sleep disturbance and frequent stomach upset.

I visited another doctor and he allowed me to wait in the examination room for a period that even his nurse thought was excessive. When he finally entered and I told him of my condition, his comment was that "hepatitis C has no symptoms and there is no rush". After I informed him of some of the information I had attained from this site regarding hepatitis treatment, this doctor decided that he didn't treat hepatitis C.

I saw another doctor, a colleague of Galleb, Dr Gallati who almost immediately demonstrated his ineptitude by not showing up at the hospital emergency room he directed me to when I had severe abdominal pain requiring hospitalization. Following my release from the hospital after an emergency procedure, I was terminated by the medical branch of The University of Texas where I worked and all medical benefits have been terminated. During the last thirty days when my medical benefits were still in effect, Dr. Gallati cancelled all my appointments. When I appealed the work termination, an individual in administration contacted my attorney and did not even appear for the hearing, leaving me without representation. So I am now unemployed, without medical services and the symptoms of my hepatitis C have returned.

It's a great managed care world. I am watching my stomach and ankle swell, have sleepless nights, am sick to the stomach and have little appetite. The search continues for a doctor who understands what "therapeutic relationship" means, as I continue to adjust my diet using information attained from this site.


To: Dr Gallatti, Texas Liver Clinic
From: Donald Lee
Date: 03/25/99
Re: Displeasure with Level of Treatment

I am extremely displeased with the treatment I am receiving under your direction, and I am further offended by the conversation I had with you on 03.24.99 regarding my treatment. Your casual attitude toward treatment of potentially fatal condition is astonishing and flies in the face of all recent literature that repeatedly states that early aggressive treatment reduces liver damage and produces better outcomes.This is the second disruption in my treatment protocol and I have had no positive response. After being taken off all medication, for the second time since treatment began, and not being examined for a week after reporting to your nurse that I was experiencing physical difficulty that is affecting my ability to work effectively, you have put me off for another week. Your utter disregard for the suffering that I am experiencing is incredible. I called to report that I am not sleeping which is affecting my vocation and my continued employment, and you suggest that I’m seeking sleeping pills. I am deeply insulted by your insinuation. What I am seeking is reduction of symptoms to a level that permits a reasonable level of functioning and effectiveness at work. My caseload in the work place has been reduced because my condition has worsened and I am not, in my opinion receiving adequate medical attention.

In February, I reported to your nurse an emergency situation and was told that you were at Herman hospital and that I was to meet you at he emergency room. I followed instructions, but did not see you until two days later, after much suffering and after I insisted that the nursing staff contact you.

It appears that you are continuing the same pattern of unnecessary delay and lack of treatment while collecting fees that your colleague Dr. Ghaleeb engaged in. I am deeply offended and intend to take whatever course of action necessary to make this a public, known fact and to use whatever resources are available to see that this form of treatment of insured, paying patients does not continue.


CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS WHILE EMPLOYED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS

7/97

Employed by UT.
   

7/97

Did not receive orientation as per policy.
   

9/97

Examined by Dr Russel of Diagnostic of Houston.
   

10/97

Referred to Dr Robin by Dr Russel examined.
   

12/97

Received results of examination by Robin and notified positive for Hep C, informed that insurance was improper for treatment. Told by Robin to find another doctor to treat me.
   

12/97

Notified NYLCare of situation and was referred to oncologist.
   

1/98

Told by oncologist that he did not treat liver disease, Notified NYLCare and solicited help in finding physician. Referred to Dr. Giufrida, who performed redundant examination and referred to Dr Ghaleeb of Texas Liver Clinic.
   

2/98

Ghaleeb performed testing to determine condition, would not accept findings from Dr Robin.
   

2/98

Called into office, told that I had Hep C ,but that more test needed to be performed. Became symptomatic with fatigue, daily nausea, weight loss, dark urine, swollen ankle. Received no treatment.
   

3/98

Biopsy performed with 300.00 dollar out of pocketcost when insurance was supposed to cover entire cost. Ghaleeb made petty comments during procedure. In late April results were in, but received no notification from Dr Ghaleeb, When contact attempted, told she was on vacation.
   

4/98

Finally notified that results were positive, but that she wanted evaluation from psychiatrist. Missing work do to illness, receiving no treatment.
   

5/98

Evaluated by Dr Collura and results forwarded to Ghaleeb, still no treatment and Ghaleeb refusing to perform treatment. Ghaleeb not responding to telephone contact. Dr Guifrida enlisted to find new doctor and contact Ghaleeb concerning treatment without success.
   

9/98

Made new appointment at diagnostic of Houston. During appointment visit, kept waiting an exorbitant period and finally told when seen that there was no rush to treat the condition and that hepatitis c had no symptoms. After contacting administration, the doctor called by phone and notified me that he did not treat hepatitis c, although he is the only gastrointerologist at Diagnostic of Houston. Diagnostic referred me to Dr Gallatti who could not see me until 12/98.
   

12/98

Appointment with Gallatti delayed until January ’99.
   

1/99

Gallati visit interrupted when he took a phone call. Blood for testing taken and repeat of previous testing engaged, no treatment received although Gallatti is a colleague of Ghaleeb and had access to previous records.
   

2/99

Interferon A began with extreme side affects when ribivirin added. Gallati notified and treatment interrupted for two weeks.
   

3/99

Treatment restarted but with severe stomach pains and on 3/15/99 had severe reaction with loss of consciousness. Contacted Gallati’s office and referred to Herman Hospital where Gallati was to meet me. Although I was told Gallati was at the hospital I did not see him until two days later, after admission as inpatient. Abdominal scan taken and anomaly noted in stomach area. No meds administered for pain, only offered aspirin. After objection by me, Gallati contacted and pain meds administered with minimal relief. Procedure scheduled and performed on Saturday and discharged from hospital on Sunday although outcome of operation unsure. Sunday evening discomfort returned. On Monday returned to work and the next week I was notified by clinical director that I was missing more work than the previous year. On 3/26 attacked by staff member and I was put on administrative leave pending outcome of investigation. No investigation of incident conducted or outcome determined.
   

4/6/99

Based on innuendo and rumor I was terminated by The University of Texas Medical.
   

4/8/99

Gallati’s office contacted my parents and notified them that my appointments were cancelled, even though I had 30 days remaining on my medical benefits. No referrals or instructions were given.

I was fired the week before Christmas from Intracare North Hospital after three weeks on the job without receiving notice or counseling and with the only reason being that it wasn't working out. Three days before I was fired I was told by my superior that I had excellent skills and that the patients thought that I was a great counselor and that they related to me and felt that they were making progress not previously achieved in prior treatment experiences. I am a licensed therapist and have a certification to work with dually diagnosed clients and have twenty plus years experience in the counseling field with both adolescent and adult patients. I am presently unemployed, not receiving treatment and experiencing the symptoms of advancing Hepatitis C with sleep disturbance, loss of appetite and weight, memory and concentration difficulties. My family can't believe that I can't get help. Neither can I.

 

The opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author and none of the information included is to be misconstrued as medical advise.

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Last Updated March 20, 2012