Big Island man latest liver patient linked to diet supplement - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Big Island man latest liver patient linked to diet supplement

Thad Estrada Thad Estrada
KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Thad Estrada has never been hospitalized in his life. But the 34-year-old Kona man was admitted to Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center with liver inflammation just days after he stopped taking a popular diet supplement linked to other cases of liver failure.

Estrada comes from a family that has been health and active. He said he began taking OxyElite Pro in 2011.

"I had success in the beginning. I lost about 25 pounds the first time I did it," he said.

Estrada said he stopped taking the pills when he had lost enough weight. However, after gaining some weight back recently, he began using the supplement again. He said when he got a new bottle from GNC, he was told that the pills had changed.

"They said 'This is a new formula. It doesn't work as good. But you should still be able to get the same results.' And I believed it."

But Estrada said there was something different: the new formula definitely didn't work as well as the original.

"I noticed that my level of energy didn't change when I was taking it, so I just stopped taking it altogether because I didn't think it was working," he said.

Estrada stopped taking OxyElite Pro around Sept. 25. He said that shortly afterward, he began to experience fatigue and nausea. And then his fiancee noticed that his eyes were turning yellow.

"The yellow was getting worse. Like the eyes. I mean, that as the tell-tale point that I needed to see somebody," said Estrada.

He went to the Kaiser Permanente clinic in Kona last week Tuesday. 

"They took a blood test and then the next day, that's when the results came in, that's when they said, oh, some of these tests are showing that your liver is damaged,'" he said. "They referred me to Kaiser Moanalua, that I needed to check in right away."

Estrada flew to Oahu and was admitted last week Friday.

"When I saw his eyes yellow, his body yellow, he just looked really tired. I think that's when it hit me, how serious this was," said Estrada's mother, Bridget Machado.

Estrada said his doctors have ruled out everything for the liver damage -- except the diet supplement.

"They did a lot of tests to weed out a lot of other possibilities," he said. "They said, 'We feel that your liver inflammation has to do with the OxyElite Pro that you were taking."

Estrada has been staying at his grandparents' home in Kailua since he was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. But his condition has worsened, and he returned to the emergency room Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, he now has an attorney who is representing other liver failure patients with possible links to OxyElite Pro. The lawyer is having private labs conduct further tests to see if there is a link.

Estrada is now warning friends not to take the supplement. And the father of three -- including a one-month-old daughter -- is also facing uncertainty about what's ahead.

"We don't know what's going to happen in the future. I don't know how long this is going to be with me," he said.

"I just gotta tell people that it's really happening. This stuff is happening. It's not a joke."


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