FOX News' Ed Henry taking medical leave to donate liver to his sister

FOX News' Ed Henry, who is the network's Chief National Correspondent, will take a medical leave of absence in order to donate his liver to his sister.

An emotional Henry first revealed the news on-air on Sunday, beginning to cry as he confirmed that his sister, Colleen, has long suffered from a degenerative liver disease and was far down on a transplant waiting list. While he did not go into detail about her condition, he noted in a subsequent column that it is caused by genetics and family history, not abuse of alcohol.

"On Tuesday [July 9], I will be donating approximately 30 percent of my liver to my sister at a hospital in the Northeast," Henry wrote in his Fox News op-ed. "I will undergo about six hours of surgery to remove that portion of my liver, and in an operating room next door Colleen will go through about eight to 10 hours of surgery to entirely remove her diseased liver and replace it with part of my liver."

The liver, he continued, will regenerate inside both his body and his sister's body upon implementation, he said, describing the procedure as a "medical marvel, and yet doctors in this great country called America perform these miracles pretty frequently."

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FOX News' Ed Henry
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FOX News' Ed Henry
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 17: Ed Henry, Fox News chief national correspondent attends "Fox & Friends" on August 17, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
FILE - In this April 27, 2013, file photo, Ed Henry, Chief White House Correspondent for Fox News, applauds during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington. After taking four months off, Henry will return to Fox News, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016, in a new role, as Chief National Correspondent. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
President Barack Obama, left, and White House Correspondent Association President Ed Henry, Chief White House Correspondent for Fox News, laugh during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama, right, walks to the podium to speak as White House Correspondent Association President Ed Henry, Chief White House Correspondent for Fox News, applauds during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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Doctors told Henry that before he could donate, he would have to lose "10 to 15 pounds to cleanse fat from my liver." He turned to a company called Kettlebell Kitchen, he said, to design a custom meal plan for his specific goal.

"The pounds came off with the low-calorie food, more regular workouts, and a big reduction in alcohol intake," he said.

A GoFundMe for Henry's sister describes her as a single mom of two: "Despite the challenges of her deteriorating health, Colleen tirelessly has worked two jobs," the page reads. "She is humble and loved by everyone she meets."

RELATED: Early signs of liver troubles

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9 signs your liver is in trouble
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9 signs your liver is in trouble

Your eyes turn yellow

“Yellow eyes are a sign your liver isn’t doing very well and is probably the most specific sign of liver disease,” says KV Narayanan Menon, MD, medical director of liver transplantation at Cleveland Clinic. A yellow colored substance called bilirubin is usually broken down by the liver so it can be removed from the body, but when the liver is struggling it can cause bilirubin to build up, leading to yellowing of the whites of the eyes. Don’t miss these 10 signs of disease that are written all over your face.

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Your belly fills with fluid

If your belly suddenly balloons and doesn’t stop, it could be more than ordinary bloating. “Increased pressure within the blood vessels around the liver can lead to fluid buildup in the abdomen,” says Dr. Menon. It’s important to see a doctor, who will be able to tell you if you’re bloated from gas, food, or fluid. Here are the 13 surprising ways you’re hurting your liver without even knowing.

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You have Hepatitis A, B or C

When viruses or parasites infect the liver, it causes inflammation and reduced liver function. The most common types of liver infection are the hepatitis viruses; A is spread by coming into contact with a contaminated person’s feces or by ingesting compromised food and drink, while B and C are most commonly transmitted through blood, sex, or contact with other bodily fluids. “There are some really good treatments out there if you have hepatitis C, so people should get tested,” says Dr. Menon. Talk to your doctor about what other steps you can take to keep your liver as healthy as possible. Make sure you know the silent signs of liver cancer you should never ignore.

You can't stop itching

Believe it or not, a sick liver can cause itching all over your body. “We don’t know for sure, but it’s thought to be related to bile salt,” says Dr. Menon. Bile is a digestive substance produced by the liver, but in people with primary biliary cirrhosis (an autoimmune liver disease that causes the bile duct to collapse), that bile can accumulate and cause noticeable symptoms, like itching. Aside from liver disease, here are 10 more things your itchy skin can reveal about your health.

You're always tired

Persistent fatigue is almost always a sign that something’s not right in your body. Liver disease can cause this.

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You're a heavy drinker

Excessive, chronic alcohol use can do a real number on your liver over time, eventually leading to liver disease. The liver helps rid your body of chemicals and toxins, so consistently pumping it full of booze means it’s working overtime. Watch out for these fatty liver symptoms that could lead to disease.

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You're overweight

Being overweight or obese affects more than how you look in the mirror. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is on the rise, especially in people in their 40s and 50s, and basically means fat has built up on and around the organ. Sometimes, this leads to cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver. The good news is, you can manage or change the factors that up your risk of developing the disease, such as obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

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You have a family history of liver disease

“A small class of liver diseases are hereditary, so if you think there have been family members who died of liver disease or liver cancer, bring it up to your doctor so they can look into it further,” says Dr. Menon. Check out this type of liver disease that millions of people don’t even know they have.

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You're confused or forgetful

While a little forgetfulness is actually a good thing, if you suddenly seem to misplace everything or feel easily confused, don’t write it off as a harmless brain fart. Hepatic encephalopathy is a condition that can occur when the liver is unable to properly remove toxins from the body and typically occurs in patients with chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, or hepatitis. If you notice these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. 

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