Gareth Anderson: suffered acute liver failure after 30-can binge

The father of a man who was last year denied a liver transplant says his son has recovered from a major break­- down after a period in a well-known centre for the treatment of depression.

Gareth Anderson (20) from Co Down suffered acute liver failure one year ago after drinking 30 cans of lager on a binge drinking session. It was then decided that he could not have a liver transplant until he stopped drinking for at least six months.

His father, Brian, says Gareth only realised the seriousness of the incident this summer.

"When you have an incident of this scale, sometimes it takes months for it to actually hit you. Then, everything closed in on him in June. It took that long for him to realise what had actually happened. He was at a very low point and had a breakdown."

The 20-year-old then decided in late June to check himself into a centre for depression in Downpatrick to begin recovery. "It was the first time that he ever volunteered to go into a hospital himself, and he spent over a month there and is just out, and is much the better for it. He says he wants to get his life together. I am so grateful to hear him say it."

Anderson was told that he would not be in a position to receive a liver transplant, but his father says this may not be necessary any longer. "We recently went to the hospital and he was told that his liver will now do him for at least eight to 10 years, which was much better than what we were expecting to hear.

"The difference between him this August and last August is astonishing. The whole family has come a long, long way. It was a difficult year, and recovery was not always obvious. Everyone suffered, but we are coming through the other side now."

Brian Anderson says he has now rented a shop premises for his son, who is setting up a pet shop in the main shopping centre in Francis Street in Down.

"I saw the premises, went out and paid three months' rent and said to him that this was to be his direction in life from now on. He always wanted to open a pet shop and now we are in the process of getting all the supplies in. He is focused and spending all his time setting everything up before we open in December," he said.