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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THE CAMOUFLAGED KILLER GUSHING NOSEBLEEDS. SWOLLEN LEGS. JAUNDICE. FATIGUE. THE DOCTORS SAID IT WAS JOB STRESS.
TYLER, TX – Bob Walters, 27, a high school agriculture science teacher, never thought he was dying from copper poisoning. After Walters came in complaining of stomach cramps and severe headaches, Kai Xia, MD, a gastroenterologist at Trinity Clinic with Trinity Mother Frances Health System in Tyler, Texas quickly discovered this was certainly the case. Walters was soon told he was suffering from Wilson’s Disease, a rare genetic disorder that is fatal unless treated, which causes toxic build-ups of copper in the liver, brain, and eyes. “I had only read about this disease in textbooks at Harvard. I had never seen an actual case until now,” says Dr. Xia, who spent 20 years at Brigham and Women’s Hospital before relocating her practice and research to Trinity Clinic in Tyler five months ago. In fact, Wilson’s Disease is so rare that it only affects approximately one in 30,000 people worldwide. Statistically, it is estimated that only 8,000-9,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with Wilson’s Disease, with at least 1,000 more possibly undiagnosed. “There simply isn’t enough awareness of this disease among society nor among the physicians, so many people are deathly ill and are continuously being misdiagnosed,” says Mary Graper of the Wilson’s Disease Association (WDA). Graper said Walters was fortunate to get an accurate diagnosis so quickly. She described patients who had been treated for supposed psychiatric problems for years-including undergoing electroconvulsive therapybefore doctors realized the true cause of their problems was Wilson’s Disease. The problem in diagnosis is that Wilson’s Disease mimics hepatitis, psychiatric, or neurological disorders, leading patients to get the wrong treatment for years. In fact, Walters was being treated for job-related stress before Dr. Xia discovered the problem. More specific symptoms patients may experience are jaundice, abdominal swelling, vomiting of blood, and abdominal pain. Every patient, however, may exhibit different symptoms as there are just under 300 mutations of the Wilson’s Disease gene. For more information on Wilson’s Disease visit www.wilsonsdisease.org. For more information on Trinity Mother Frances Health System visit www.tmfhs.org. TMFHS is comprised of Mother Frances Hospital-Tyler, Mother Frances Hospital-Jacksonville, and Trinity Clinic. Trinity Clinic is the most-preferred physician group in east, northeast and north-central Texas, with over 200 physicians representing 33 medical specialties.