Ipswich: Tennis star Baltacha ‘may need transplant’
PUBLISHED: 21:47 07 March 2014 | UPDATED: 21:47 07 March 2014
Britain’s former number one female tennis player might need a transplant after being diagnosed with cancer of the liver, a health charity warned.
Elena Baltacha was diagnosed at the age of 19 with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system.
Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “Obviously the diagnosis of liver cancer is very serious and she is going to require a lot of support with whatever treatment she is getting.
“The worst case scenario is that she may need a liver transplant which is a very worrying thing for people, particularly as we know that there’s a shortage of donated organs.
“Both Elena and her family will need a lot of emotional support in this period. The diagnosis is bad enough but whatever treatment she receives will have its own side effects too.
“I think it’s also important to remember she’s very young. Even though she’s had a chronic illness with PSC and will know this can lead to cancer, it’s still a very harrowing thing to hear that diagnosis.”
PSC, said Mr Langford, is a genetic illness that infects the bile duct. A back flow of bile into the liver causes scarring which can lead to cirrhosis.
Baltacha can look to Great Britain Davis Cup player Ross Hutchins for inspiration.
The 29-year-old returned to action earlier this year with doubles partner Colin Fleming after recovering from Hodgkins Lymphoma - a form of cancer.
Hutchins was diagnosed with the illness in December 2012 but announced he was in remission in July.
You can find out more about liver conditions on the website of the British Liver Trust: www.britishlivertrust.org.uk, or on their information line: 0800 652 7330.