Man's genetic condition goes undiagnosed until simple blood test

Timothy Davis says he was misdiagnosed and suffered for nearly two years before doctors realized he has a genetic condition called Alpha-1. It attacks the liver and lungs.

Posted: Oct. 15, 2018 11:18 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A Terre Haute man says you could have a deadly health condition like he does and not even know it.

Timothy Davis says he was misdiagnosed and suffered for nearly two years before doctors realized he has a genetic condition called Alpha-1. It attacks the liver and lungs.

"It's a wonder I'm alive."

Alpha-1 is passed from parents to children through their genes. According to the Alpha-1 Foundation, the condition is often misdiagnosed as asthma.

Timothy Davis says, "Been healthy all my life and it just hit me like a ton of bricks."

Davis and his wife, Donna, say their lives have been forever changed. Pill bottles and an oxygen machine are daily reminders of the devastating condition that took decades to surface.

It was five years ago Tim says he spent several days in the hospital.

"It was during the influenza outbreak so I thought I had the flu and the hospitals were packed. Pretty much, went to the hospital and found out I had double lung pneumonia."

Unfortunately, even after his hospital stay was over, Tim still struggled with lung problems so the couple went to another doctor. That's when they say a simple six-dollar blood test uncovered the truth.

Tim was diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. It means Tim's liver does not release enough Alpha-1 protein. The protein protects the lungs.

The deficiency can lead to liver damage in babies and adults and even lung disease. Alpha-1 can be treated but, eventually, Tim will need a double lung transplant.

Donna Davis says, "He does pretty well with the disease that he's got but, you know, slowly he's getting worse and worse and he's going to need those lungs."

Now Tim keeps a record of his physical activity and gets a regular treatment of a drug made from donated plasma.

The couple says it is vital everyone be vigilant with their health.

Donna Davis says, "Really has changed our lives a lot."

Tuesday, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett is expected to sign a proclamation to declare November Alpha-1 Awareness Month.

For more information about Alpha-1 click here.

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