A dad from Stevenage is warning others after he collapsed at home, vomiting blood, and had to have a life-saving liver transplant because he didn't act on advice to change his diet.

Paul Cherry, 56, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 15 years ago. 

The father-of-two said: "The hospital said I should watch what I eat and drink, but when you don’t feel too bad you think it’s all rubbish."

Three years later, Paul was in pain and had little appetite for food when he was diagnosed with fatty liver disease - a preventable condition caused by his unhealthy diet.

In 2021, he collapsed at home, vomiting blood. Paul was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery and taken into intensive care. His family was told he was unlikely to survive.

Thankfully, Paul did survive, but his health continued to decline and doctors told him the damage to his liver was so severe that he needed a liver transplant.

While he waited for a donor liver, Paul had to have litres of fluid drained from his stomach every fortnight. He became aggressive and confused, as toxins built up in his bloodstream.

When a suitable donor liver was found in May 2023, Paul was given a 50/50 chance of surviving the transplant operation. 

Now, a year after his transplant, Paul said: "I couldn’t fault the service, but it was the most frightening experience of my life and a very steep learning curve.

"I now have my bloods done every three weeks, then see my consultant who adjusts my medication – it’s less every time, and I won’t need to see him as often, which is a positive.

"I now eat a healthy diet, exercise gently and do everything I am advised to do, and think I’m doing my donor proud. I also take lifelong medication to stop rejection."

He continued: "I should have taken heed at the very beginning, rather than thinking it would never happen to me.

"There needs to be more awareness of the liver – you talk to people about liver disease and they say ‘shut up, you could be hit by a bus tomorrow’. Well, you’ll feel like you have been when you’re told you need a transplant.

"On the day of my transplant, my wife ordered a tree and silver plaque in my donor’s honour and we planted it in our garden. Whenever I look at it, I think how lucky I am, but how sad it is for their family."

Today (June 13) is Global Fatty Liver Day, and the British Liver Trust is raising awareness of this preventable condition which, if left undetected, can lead to liver failure or liver cancer.

Up to 1 in 5 people in the UK have fatty liver disease, which is closely linked to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and being overweight. It can be managed, or reversed, with a balanced diet, exercise and weight loss.

For more information about liver disease and how to love your liver back to health, visit britishlivertrust.org.uk.