American Liver Foundation fundraiser brings hope to those suffering from liver disease

After having her blood donation rejected, registered nurse and champion volunteer Jennifer Slepin knew something was wrong. Slepin had previously contracted hepatitis C, a virus that attacks the liver and took her brother’s life in 2008.

“I’ve always held in the back of my mind that I was going to die just like my brother,”said Slepin whose final treatment was this past Friday. “There was always a dark cloud over me and now there’s hope,” she said.

Now a consistent volunteer with the San Francisco chapter of the American Liver Foundation, Slepin was a key speaker at this year’s Liver Life Walk, a fundraising event that raises awareness and funds for liver health.

Members of the Nursing Student Association at SF State were also volunteers in this year’s event and arrived early at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park to help set up. They later acted as route guides for walkers and managed registration, donations, and refreshments for its supporters.

The American Liver Foundation orchestrates the nationwide fundraising event every year in San Francisco along 28 other cities to complete its mission of aiding liver health said National Director of Special Events Kelly Smith.

“It’s something that is near and dear to my heart,”said Smith, whose grandfather died from liver disease. “I think it’s a cause that needs to be brought to the forefront and more awareness needs to be made.”

Nursing student at SF State and association member Kristel Tayag, whose father died two years ago from liver cancer, supported the event with eagerness.

“I know that I want more research done on liver cancer and everything that has to do with the liver,” Tayag said. “Being here today, I know I’m making him proud of me.”

After witnessing a liver transplant, SF State nursing student and association member Pa Chia Dimalanta understands the importance of the fundraiser.

“It’s a great cause to support and that’s why I’m here today,” she said. “Seeing the people here not only makes me happy but optimistic about the future of liver research.”

An estimated 4 million Americans are diagnosed with hepatitis B and C, both viruses that attack the liver, every year and roughly 30 million Americans are living with liver disease according to Smith.

“I’m really appreciative of all the American Liver Foundation’s efforts at education,”Slepin said. “We really need to get the word out.”