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Naomi Judd's battle with hepatitis revisited as country singer dies age 76

Eve Edwards May 1, 2022
Naomi Judd's battle with hepatitis revisited as country singer dies age 76

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Iconic country singer Naomi Judd, known as one half of The Judds duo, has died at 76.

Naomi Judd, the mother of Ashley and Wynonna Judd, passed away on 30 April 2022 after a battle with mental illness, as reported by the Independent.

As reports on Naomi Judd’s passing also make reference to her hepatitis C diagnosis, you might be wondering how the singer contracted hepatitis in the first place. Let’s take a look at what happened to Naomi Judd’s health back in the 1990s.

Photo by Ed Rode/WireImage

How did Naomi Judd contract hepatitis C?

In 1990, Naomi Judd discovered that she had contracted hepatitis C from a previous needlestick injury contracted when Judd worked as a nurse. Hepatitis C is a virus which spreads through coming into contact with the blood of an infected person. It can present itself with flu-like symptoms but predominantly does damage to the liver.

The initial prognosis was fateful as the doctor believed Judd had just three years to live, as reported by Healthline. However, Naomi Judd sought treatment and in 1998 her hepatitis C was in remission.

Judd flew to Amarillo, Texas on 5 March 1998 to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show and announce her positive health news.  “Never ever, ever give up hope. Cling to hope because it’s going to help you cope,” she said. “Use my story as an example. Let me give you hope. “

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A look back over Naomi Judd’s nursing career

It might surprise you to learn that Naomi Judd was a registered nurse before becoming a country music singer. Judd worked for the intensive care unit at a hospital in Tennessee for several years, as reported by Lubbock.

In September 2016, Judd appeared at TTU School of Nursing’s 35th Anniversary Gala. At the event, Naomi Judd revealed more about her history as a nurse and what inspired her to take on the role:

“I was 19 years old and my 17-year-old little brother died of Hodgkin’s [lymphoma] and I felt so incredibly helpless. Nobody told us what was going on. He asked me one time if he was dying and I didn’t know what to tell him. It was such an incredible trauma and tragedy to me that it was on a cellular memory that just got registered to me. I was born to do [nursing] because I had so much empathy and compassion for other people.”

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Hepatitis diagnosis brought The Judds to a close

After receiving her hepatitis C diagnosis, Naomi Judd decided to bring about the end of her three-decade-long career performing. In late 1990, Naomi Judd and daughter Wynonna brought their duo, The Judds, to a close.

The impact of performing while suffering from hepatitis was taking a toll on Naomi Judd, as she later admitted to Oprah Winfrey. Speaking about an early performance in 1990, Judd said: “I barely remember doing that show, actually. That’s when I was still hiding it.”

On 19 October 1990, the Los Angeles Times reported that Naomi Judd would be retiring. “I have always told Wy and our fans the only thing that could stop me from this career that I so desperately love is my health. Unfortunately, that has happened,” Judd said. She also confirmed that Wynonna Judd would continue with a solo career.

While The Judds may have been halted in the early to mid-90s, once Naomi Judd received her all clear, the duo returned for many reunion performances throughout the late 90s and 2000s.

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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.