A Newtownards teenager who was on the brink of death after his liver failed during a drinking binge has returned to hospital for another operation.
Gareth Anderson suffered acute liver failure last August but was denied a place on the liver transplant list because he had not been alcohol-free for six months.
The 19-year-old made a miraculous recovery after being moved from the Ulster Hospital to the liver unit at King's College Hospital in London where the late Northern Ireland football legend George Best underwent a liver transplant.
However the former Movilla High School pupil, who spent a fortnight in intensive care, is back in hospital in Belfast, this time for treatment to improve his kidney function.
His father Brian told the Belfast Telegraph Gareth was having a ‘stent’ implanted to help doctors drain fluid from his kidneys.
“He is having a small operation to have a stent put into his body.
“His kidneys have not been working. We lost the kidneys when we were in London. We lost the bowels too, but they have come back better than the kidneys which have come back very poorly and they are trying to sort that out,” he said.
“Three weeks ago they took 21 litres of fluid from him in two days and last week they took 12-and-a-half litres of fluid off him.
“He spent 14 days in intensive care and two of those days we were told he was going to die so his whole functions have been badly messed up and are slowing down.
“His kidneys failed when we went to London because of the pressure of all the drugs that he was having.”
Gareth’s liver failed after drinking 30 cans of lager on a weekend binge and had to be rushed to hospital.
He dominated the news schedules as his condition deteriorated — and his father tried desperately to get authorities to put him on the transplant waiting list.
Gareth then earned himself some negative publicity when he left his bed at the Ulster Hospital and went to a nearby pub in search of a drink, which Mr Anderson said was a “cry for help”.
Despite the current hurdles to Gareth’s recuperation Mr Anderson said he was confident that his son will eventually make a full recovery.
He added: “At the Royal and with Dr McDougal there is no panic. They are hoping things will settle down.
“Gareth has basically been hospitalised since August 4 and he is doing really well.
“Emotionally he is very, very keen to get out and about and get into the pet shop that I sorted for him.
“He just knows he had to go through procedures to get better and wait until things come good.”