Getting the Big Guns Out

We are learning a lot about the immune system and how it all works. The problem Art is experiencing has to do with some antibodies forming in his blood. To fight them the doctor initially used a plasma replacement therapy shortly after the transplant and it seemed to work. All antibodies live in the plasma so this was intended to get the bad antibodies out. However a couple of weeks after the treatments stopped the situation came back and began to clog up the kidney again.

So the doctors decided to get the Big Guns out and use a strong medicine called Rituximab. According to Wikipedia “Rituximab destroys B cells and is therefore used to treat diseases which are characterized by excessive numbers of B cells, overactive B cells, or dysfunctional B cells”. The “B” cells make antibodies so the idea now is to remove the anti-bodies and also kill all the cells that make antibodies.

Apparently Rituximab is used in fighting certain blood diseases like leukemia and lymphomas. The doctors are hoping that when the body slowly begins to re-create the B-cells and eventually the antibodies again…it will do it slow enough to allow Art’s immune system to deal with it.

This week is the last of the 4 treatments and it takes the better part of a day laying in a bed in the out-patient area. They give the medicine via an IV and do not rush it, so it takes at least 5 hours to get into the system.

In the next few weeks we will find out if the Big Guns did the job or not.


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