Hi, Glwired and welcome to the forum. I am sorry your friend is in such bad shape. PinkGrandma mentioned that he doesn't have encephalopathy yet; however, you mentioned in your post that at one point he was "disoriented and falling." This could have been encephalopathy, which is a very high amount of amonia in the system. Or it could have been something else. At any rate, I was surprised about the emphasis on protein, as most hep C patients are told not to consume much (if any) animal protein, especially beef, as it is hard for the liver to break down. However, with his muscle wasting, I can see the need for protein. It doesn't have to be meat, though. Cheese, eggs, milk or ice cream, nuts, beans, all can supply the protein he needs. Iron is also not good for a damaged liver. Is your friend going to AA meetings? I would certainly recommend it, and the transplant coordinator will require it, if he is to be eligible for transplant.
As PG said, there is a topic on the symptoms of end stage liver disease. Not everyone gets all these symptoms and they may not be in that order. I was diagnosed with hep C in '93 and developed liver cancer and cirrhosis as a result. However, I am now cancer free and doing pretty well, aside from constant fatigue and elevated liver enzymes. I will be meeting with my hepatologist early next month to discuss possible treatment.
Your friend can improve by taking care of his health, meaning NO alcohol and a diet heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables. Also lots of water.
There is always hope. He is lucky to have you as a friend.