WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — For more than a week, Carlos Mahecha, news anchor for CBS12’s sister station Azteca 48, has been informing his viewers about Hepatitis A, the contagious liver disease that is sweeping many local communities.
But for Mahecha, the disease is much more than a news story.
“It’s very serious," he said. "I suffered a lot and it’s very emotional to think about everything that I went through with Hepatitis A."
Mahecha was diagnosed with the virus at 15 years old. In the early stages, he says he shrugged off the flu-like symptoms.
That quickly changed when his doctor put him under quarantine.
“I was isolated from my family, friends, in a room in my house,” Mahecha said. “I cannot see anybody. I couldn’t even move. I had to stay there for three months.”
In grave danger, Mahecha says he experienced all the symptoms of Hepatitis A: severe muscle aches and pain, yellowing of skin and eyes, dark urine and weight loss.
He says his liver was so enlarged that his doctor had to restrain him in bed to prevent a rupture.
“Before I went to bed, I would pray asking, ‘I want to wake up the next day’, always thinking that I’m going to die,” Mahecha said.
He says when was diagnosed in the early 1990s, his doctors admit that it was challenging to treat the virus because it was so rare at the time.
He says doctors in Colombia later used his case for studies and research.
The experience still haunts Mahecha.
He is sharing his experience to raise awareness about the importance of getting vaccinated.
“People can die from this," Mahecha said. "That’s how it is. We need to take it so seriously and help the community to learn about this condition."