Smith considers herself lucky to be alive after a six-hour, emergency liver transplant performed by Dr. Lewis Teperman. The life-saving surgery was the only alternative for Smith after being diagnosed with fulminant Hepatitis B she acquired as a result of an infected nose ring.
Smith’s story began during the Thanksgiving holiday while on a shopping trip with friends. She decided, on a whim, to get a nose ring, and then thought no more about it.
“A few days later, I noticed that I wasn’t feeling very well,” Smith said. “I just chalked it up to the stress of the holiday season. But when it got to the point that I couldn’t hold down food or water, I knew I needed to be taken to the hospital.”
Smith was brought to the Emergency Department at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ) in New Hyde Park on January 13. That’s where her memory of the ordeal ends. Yet it was only the beginning.
When she awoke on January 19, she remembers seeing Dr. Teperman. He told her about the stunning turn of events: That she had undergone an emergency liver transplant after having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of fulminant Hepatitis B.
“We really don’t see too many cases of fulminant Hepatitis B anymore,” said Dr. Teperman. “We placed her in a medically induced coma and immediately put her name on the liver transplant waiting list.”
Remarkably, a donor liver was offered within 72 hours, enabling Dr. Teperman and his team to perform the six-hour surgery on January 17. The Center, which opened in December 2019, has performed eight liver transplants to date.
“We realized it had to be the nose ring by the timing of events,” said Dr. Teperman. “This is a young woman who is very lucky to be alive today.”
Smith acknowledged that an important lesson to be learned from her experience is that people should listen to their bodies and seek immediate medical treatment when needed.
“I did what so many other people are doing now,” said Smith. “I didn’t want to come to the hospital because I was worried about COVID-19. If I had waited even a few days more, my story would be much different.”