Sean Killian, vocalist for influential San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal band VIO-LENCE, has been diagnosed with stage 4 liver cirrhosis.
The news of Sean's medical condition was revealed by his wife, Dana Rivero Killian, during last night's (Monday, June 19) appearance on the "Thrash Zone" radio show.
She told "Thrash Zone" host Billy Boldt (hear audio below): "My husband Sean is very, very ill. He has, I guess what they call, endstage or the last stage it could possibly be at, liver disease, which is cirrhosis of the liver. And right now, his only cure is obtaining a new liver.
"This all came on real suddenly and real fast — within the past year — and it's a tremendous blow on our family, financially and emotionally, and just… as you can imagine, crazy to hear stuff like this. Luckily, he was accepted into the UCSF [Liver] Transplant Program over at the [UCSF] Medical Center there in San Francisco, which is one of, if not the, leading transplant centers in the nation with, I think — I don't wanna quote exactly — but I believe they have the highest success rate. So we're really [glad] that he got into that program. And right now, as he stands now, he is eligible for a live donor transplant."
Live Donor Liver Transplantation (LDLT) is a procedure in which a live donor gives a portion of his or her liver to a family member or friend in need of a liver transplant. "What that means is a person who is a match doesn't have to be a family member [because] family members are no more likely to be a match than any random person," Dana said. "I know a lot of people think that, because of genetics, that's the case, but it really isn't. So what that means is a person who says, 'Yeah, I'll donate a portion of my liver,' what that person does is goes through a questionnaire, which is an online questionnaire through UCSF, and then, of course, they determine whether they're a match, and then if they are, then they go through all the education and counseling and all that. And should they find it in the kindness of their heart to donate a portion of their liver, we — meaning Sean and our family — we'd take on the burden and responsibility of that cost. It is no cost to the donor, of course; they are doing us a big favor."
The final stage of cirrhosis of liver is considered as the most dreaded phase of the condition. If the patient is diagnosed during this stage, the life expectancy of the sufferer — without a liver transplant — is said to be one year to three years.
"We need to get the ball rolling with this, because there is no cure except for a new liver," Dana said. "And the longer he goes without one, the more his body just continues to deteriorate. And while they're keeping him comfortable, treating his symptoms, Sean's doing real good. We're doing everything he needs to do to maximize longevity. The bottom line is a new liver."
She continued: "I don't have a date at what point does he no longer qualify for this, but I would say, from what I understand, about a year is about the time frame, and once that year has gone by and if we haven't found a viable donor liver, then his next step is just to be on the wait list with UNOS, which is the [United Network for Organ Sharing]. They are the people in charge of those transplant lists and who gets the livers and where they go and all that and all that stuff that goes with it. So if that happens to be the case and he ends up on that list, it's really just a waiting game — it really is — and there's nothing we can do. There's no cure. Like I said, the cure is a new liver."
According to Dana, Sean's cirrhosis was brought on by years of heavy drinking. "And I've gotta tell you, listeners out there, you young kids, let this be a lesson to you," she said. "Just simmer down on the liquor, because you will have problems, and you don't wanna be where Sean is. It's horrible."
Dana went on to say that this was the first time she was speaking out publicly about Sean's illness, although a number of his friends and family members are aware of his condition and have visited him in the hospital. "It is hard to look at him," she said. "He is very, very sick. So you see, in front of you, a person who has no muscle mass, no body fat — just a skeleton with skin. And the hardest part for him is a condition called ascites, where the liver cannot process any kind of fluid, and so it just accumulates in his abdomen, like a helium balloon. And it just slowly, slowly, slowly keeps going up to like he's gonna pop. So every two weeks or so, he has to go in and have that drained. And the last time he had that drained a couple of days ago, they took thirteen liters of fluid from his abdomen. So you can imagine how painful and uncomfortable that is."
In addition to Killian, VIO-LENCE's classic lineup included guitarists Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn, both of whom are now in MACHINE HEAD.
Megaforce Records reissued VIO-LENCE's classic debut album, "Eternal Nightmare", with a live bonus CD in June 2005. The bonus disc was recorded on December 14, 2001 at Slim's in San Francisco.
VIO-LENCE's lineup on "Eternal Nightmare" consisted of Killian, Flynn, Demmel, bassist Deen Dell and drummer Perry Strickland.
Photo courtesy of Sean Killian's Facebook page