Natalie Cole & Her Battle With Hepatitis C

NATALIE COLEHepatitis C is killing more Americans than HIV, according to a just-released study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the millions infected is singer Natalie Cole, 61.

The multi-Grammy winning star recently opened up about managing her condition and her life, as well as how she managed the guilt of knowing her past most likely contributed to her developing the disease.

Cole lost her iconic father, Nat King Cole, when she was just 15. Following a string of incidents that included an arrest for drug possession in 1975; Cole entered rehab in 1983, after her young son Robert nearly drowned in the family pool while she was on a drug binge. While most aren’t able to bounce back from such a dangerous lifestyle, Cole was able to kick her addiction and return to the thing she did best: Music.

But in 2008, a diagnosis of the liver disease hepatitis C brought them home again.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that damages the liver and other organs. It may lead to a liver transplant or even death. In fact, Cole got a transplant in 2009, but not for a new liver. Because of chronic hepatitis C, both her kidneys had begun failing, and she received a new kidney.

“I’ve been so fortunate to have learned so much from my past experiences,” she says. “So I knew there was a lesson to learn from this too.”