TAMPA, Fla.-- A man is getting a second chance at life - a chance he almost didn't get because of alcohol.
- New study shows that liver disease rates have spiked
- More young people, Native Americans, Whites, & Hispanics are falling victim
- Tampa General Hospital experts say cases in the bay reflect those numbers
"I was at a party and everybody just kept looking at me like, 'You don't look right,'" Angel Troche recalled.
That was the day he first wound up in the hospital.
Doctors ran tests and found his liver was to blame.
"I stayed there for about two days, and they sent me home," Troche said.
The health scare didn't deter him from once again hitting the bottle.
It landed him back in the hospital a few more times, but eventually proved to be too much.
"[The doctor] said I only had six months to live," he said.
That was his wake-up call.
"That's when I said nuh-uh, I have a little boy that I'm raising on my own. I'm like, I'm not going to leave him," he said.
A new study shows that liver disease rates have spiked, especially among young people.
Mortality rates from cirrhosis rose 65 percent in nearly two decades.
Deaths from liver cancer doubled during that same time frame.
More young people are falling victim; as are Native American, White, and Hispanic people.
Experts at Tampa General Hospital say cases in the bay reflect those numbers.
"I do think that in Florida, as well as the south, that access to care is the problem," said Dr. Amy Lu, surgical director of liver transplantation.
"We have already started approaching the patients here in Tampa with an aggressive philosophy to try to intervene early, get patients transplanted early, optimize their care, so that when they do get transplanted, they recover more quickly," said Dr. Kiran Dhanireddy, associate director of the transplant institute.
Experts say you should be wary of liver disease if you have family members with a history of alcohol addiction and cirrhosis.
If you are overweight, make sure you exercise, eat healthy, and see a doctor regularly. This will reduce your risk of fatty liver disease.
Troche finally got his liver transplant last month and is well on the road to recovery.
He quit drinking— now, he bristles at the thought of it.
These days, he spends his days going to church and taking care of his health.
He hopes to keep others away from going down the same path he did.
"I'm very happy that I stopped and I'm here and I can talk about it!" he said.