Man Shares Pain of Being Infected After Hepatitis Exposure - 8 News NOW

Melissa Duran, Reporter

Man Shares Pain of Being Infected After Hepatitis Exposure

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By his side, his wife of 29 years, Josephine. By his side, his wife of 29 years, Josephine.

Hundreds of patients are waiting for blood test results after finding out they may have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV. But there are hundreds of others who aren't even aware they're at risk. One patient who was infected shows us how it has changed his life.

Michael Washington, 67, says he feels like he's been given a death sentence and is worried there are more cases like his.

The health district sent out this letter on Thursday to nearly 40,000 patients who were possibly exposed to hepatitis and HIV, but they don't have addresses for about 1,400 patients.

Washington says right now everyone, especially himself, is looking for answers. "They've been picking and probing at me with X-rays, slides -- everything, biopsies and I'm tired," he said.

Every move Michael Washington makes is taken with caution after contracting hepatitis C last July during a procedure at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

"She cannot come in contact with my body fluids. I have to be very careful with the needles I use. I have to put them in a container so they have to be disposed of properly," he said.

By his side, his wife of 29 years, Josephine, whose life has also been altered, after what she calls unnecessary practices by doctors.

"I've been extremely angry. I've been very angry with them," she said.

Due to previous illnesses, Washington can't be treated for hepatitis C. Though some health officials say the contamination by unsafe injection practices can be narrowed down to specific days, the Washingtons are worried there are more hepatitis C cases out there.

"When I read that it could have only happened in two days, how can you say that?! How can you determine that? You don't know which days these vials were contaminated. He has no idea -- that's just blowing smoke," said Josephine.

Michael Washington says life has changed so much, he understands if his wife wants to move on. "Try to control the anger and depression so it doesn't reflect back to my wife, and I hope that she is able to deal with the changes that I'm going through," he said.

"I'm not going anyplace, come on. My vows said for better or for worse, in sickness and in health," she said. "I had breast cancer years ago and he didn't leave me."

It's support they both need while they learn to accept what's happened -- and figure out what's next. The Washingtons have hired an attorney to help with their case.

Because patients are going to be receiving letters like that in the mail notifying them of the exposure, many are going to head to the nearest blood testing facility.

But before you do, keep in mind, you must have a referral from your doctor. The letter isn't enough and is not considered to be a referral.

Email your comments to Reporter Melissa Duran.

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