Welcome to the forum, Cheryl! I'm glad you found us! I am so sorry that your brother has liver disease. You will find a lot of information and support here. First, take a deep breath and try to relax.
First of all, your brother needs to be followed by a hepatologist. From what you've told us, his primary care physician should refer him to a transplant center. They are often in teaching hospitals, which usually will offer free care (up to a point) if a person has no income, assets, or insurance. Regardess, he should be seeing a hepatologist as soon as possible and worry about the cost later. It is good that he is applying for SSI this week. Tell your husband to write in the "comments" section or tell the caseworker that he has end-stage liver disease. They will confirm this either by letter to his doctor or through his medical records. He has to sign a release form to get the medical records released, either to him or to SS or a transplant center, or to all of them. For each person or organization he wants to have the records, he must sign a separate release form. He can call the hospital and ask to speak to Medical Records. When he is connected to them, he should ask for a release form or forms to be mailed to him. He must sign this/these and send back to the hospital before they will release the records. They usually charge so much per page, too. It would probably be cheaper for him to get one complete copy and then have copies made himself, especially if he or a family member has access to a printer.
To answer your question about albumin, it is a plasma protein and necessary for balancing the body's fluids. The high ammonia level probably led to hepatic encephalopathy, in which the patient is "not himself" and confused, combative, etc.
I suggest that you look in the folder at the top of the forum page, entitled Hepatitis Resources. There you will find a lot of information about liver disease and its progression. You can also search some older posts here for information on cirrhosis, ascites, liver transplant, etc.
Another thing he might want to do while he is still coherent is to make out a Living Will and assign someone as his Health Care Surrogate, to make medical decisions if he is unable to. Since the HIPAA laws went into effect, privacy issues have become really strict. It is a necessity for him to do this while he is still able to function.
Again, welcome. You will find a lot of support here.
Forum moderator - Hepatitis
"But that was yesterday, and I was a different person then."
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Post Edited (hep93) : 11/10/2009 6:24:07 PM (GMT-7)