A Boy Survived His Leukemia Only To Face The Dangers of Graft Versus Host Disease

According to a story from wqad.com, transplants are responsible for saving thousands of lives. Often, transplants are the last resort in diseases that have become to severe to treat effectively. One example of this is stem cell transplantation. Stem cell transplants are often the only way to cure blood cancers such as leukemia.

However, in some cases, the transplants can become a danger themselves, even if the surgical procedure itself was considered successful. Graft versus host disease (GvHD) occurs when the white blood cells in the donated tissue recognize the host body as foreign and begin to attack the host cells. This situation most commonly occurs with stem cell transplants. This condition is distinct from transplant rejection. In transplant rejection, the host body’s cells target the transplanted tissue; in GvHD, the transplant cells target host tissue. The disease can attack various parts of the body including the skin, mucosa, liver, and the digestive tract. Other areas, such as the lungs and the immune system, may also be targeted. In severe cases, GvHD can be as deadly as the disease the transplant was meant to cure. It is usually treated with immune system suppressants, but dosing must be managed precisely in order to mitigate the risk of deadly infection or cancer relapse. To learn more, click here.
The Ferguson family experienced a devastating ordeal when their young son Noah, who had been battling leukemia, was diagnosed. After enduring chemotherapy, he received a stem cell transplant. Doctors hoped that he would acquire a mild case of GvHD with the hope that it would destroy the remaining cancer cells, but the boy was in and out of the hospital for nearly half a year dealing with complications. The GvHD spread quickly to his digestive tract and liver. Now, Noah will have to deal with long term digestive problems.

However, there is hope that a new, more selective immunosuppressant could help Noah recover further. The treatment is called rapamycin, and researchers think that it could treat GvHD with less risky side effects if it is used in combination with an experimental antibody called KY-1005. Despite his difficult experience, Noah says that he one day hopes to enter the medical profession himself.


Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email