American Liver Foundation Rocky Mountain Division

Climbing for Carleen - A Husband, a Son and a Mountain: Reaching New Heights for Liver Disease

Dedicated to My Wife Carleen, Who Has Liver Disease


Palmer Lake, CO -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/11/2014 -- James McGuffey and his 17 year old son Kaleb will be climbing Mt. Rainier on June 4, 2014 to raise money for the American Liver Foundation Rocky Mountain Division and awareness for Hepatitis C. James and Kaleb are dedicating "Climbing for Carleen" to wife and mother Carleen, who learned during the pregnancy of their sixth child, she had been living with hepatitis C for 25 years.

James McGuffey is climbing mountains both literally and figuratively. But what inspires him to do the first has all to do with the second: his wife Carleen who is living with hepatitis C.

Carleen received a diagnosis three years ago while she was pregnant with their sixth child. The knowledge was even more painful in realizing that she was likely walking around with the virus for 25 years – as a result of a blood transfusion.

“It’s difficult to watch Carleen suffer the physical and emotional effects of hepatitis C but we are fighting it as a family,” says James, who lives near Colorado Springs and is father to five boys and one girl ages two through 17. It helps that the stigma surrounding the disease is lifting and that there are new drugs that are easier to tolerate and offer the hope of a cure.”

While Carleen is not a candidate for the new drug treatment regimens, which have eliminated the virus in as many as 90% of patients with the most common strains, she and James are optimistic about the newer medications that are expected to be approved by the FDA as early as this year.

For now, James and Carleen want to support the American Liver Foundation in any way they can to help facilitate greater awareness about hepatitis C and encourage early testing, and advance research that will lead to cures.

One way is to scale the majestic Mount Rainier, which James will do with his son Kaleb this June and raise money for ALF while doing so. Says James, “It is certainly a challenge but no greater than the one Carleen faces every day. I am in awe of her strength and in awe of her spirit. Together we can fight this disease and win.”

To climb mountains is about scaling the peaks of one’s life and continuing to climb no matter what. An apt metaphor for the McGuffey family.

Source: The Liver Lowdown, Monthly E-Newsletter from the American Liver Foundation, March, Patient Profile
National Free Hepatitis Testing Day, May 19, 2014, Denver Testing Locations To Be Announced

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Media Contact: Joe McCormack, Executive Director, American Liver Foundation Rocky Mountain Division, email:, office: 303-988-4388

The Complete Story as Told by James McGuffey

My name is James McGuffey. I am a 41 year old father of six wonderful children and loving husband to my wife, Carleen. We currently live in a small, beautiful community north of Colorado Springs, CO called Monument. We moved here three years ago to expand our business.This area begs you to be outdoors, my sons and I have enjoyed climbing mountains and exploring beautiful Colorado. We absolutely love it here.

During the first few months of being in Colorado, we were delighted to learn that we would be expecting our sixth child, a boy. We would now have five boys and one girl. Imagine our excitement! That excitement turned to worry once my wife had some test results come back indicating that she had contracted Hepatitis C. My wife had been living with this disease for over 22 years. There is about a 3-5% chance that a mom can pass this disease to her children through pregnancy or childbirth fortunately none of our 6 children have Hep-C.

Carleen continued on with the pregnancy and on November 29, 2011 our son and sixth child, Kyle was born. Eight weeks after Kyle’s birth, Carleen's doctor recommended that she have a liver biopsy. It was supposed to be a short outpatient procedure and we were curious to see the results after her having had Hepatitis C for so many years. Also, we would soon need to discuss treatment methods and things we could do to put this all behind us. So, we scheduled the procedure.

The biopsy, normally a simple outpatient deal, turned into a nightmare. Carleen was in pain from the moment the doctor had finished. She was sent to the ER, then home, and finally back to the ER before it was discovered that the doctor had hit an artery, while performing the biopsy. My wife was slowly bleeding to death.

A surgeon was called to discuss our options with us but, the news was grim. We were informed that surgery to correct the issue would likely result in death. Of course, we were devastated. The doctors told us that they would do angioplasty to try and stop it. Carleen ended up spending several weeks in ICU before being released, only to discover within days that she was still bleeding internally. This was only the beginning. Her lung had collapsed, constant fevers, low blood counts and every breath was painful. To top it all off, she had a baby that had to be weaned that she couldn’t care for and was on oxygen 100% of the time for 4 months after her biopsy.

Because of the Hepatitis C, and the botched biopsy, the last few years have been filled with countless hospital trips and doctor visits. These events have been traumatizing to my wife and she has suffered tremendously. Each time we left the hospital, we had no way of knowing if the bleeding had stopped for sure. Also, Carleen’s condition and frequent medical needs severely hindered her ability to care for and bond with our newborn son. Out of sheer necessity, and love for my family, I had to step up and be Mr. Mom. This experience has been filled with pain, fear, and uncertainty for my family and I.

Carleen has yet to have treatment due to all the complications that have occurred. However, with the new drugs and treatments coming out in the next few years we are looking forward to getting her healed!

As a part of raising money and awareness for the American Liver Foundation my son Kaleb and I are climbing Mt. Rainier in June. It is not an easy climb but, it will be worth all of the effort if we can help someone be aware that they might have this disease and the importance of getting tested. There is a lot of media exposure around other diseases, which is needed but, not enough for liver disease and it’s time for that to change. Help us get to the top of Mt. Rainier by donating on the American Liver Foundations secure fundraising page.