A Girl From South Africa Faces Primary Immunodeficiency

According to a story from peoplemagazine.co.za, Kasandra van Alphen is an eight year old girl from Johannesburg, South Africa that was diagnosed with primary immunodeficiency. Known by her friends and family as “Sannie,” the energetic and bright little girl nevertheless has to spend a good deal of time in the hospital because her diagnosis makes her very vulnerable to infections.

About Primary Immunodeficiency

Primary immunodeficiency describes a group of disorders which are characterized by some degree of dysfunction of the immune system. These diseases are generally the result of genetic abnormalities and are not the result of other conditions or external factors. In some cases, they may remain latent until a certain environmental trigger causes problems to appear. The symptoms of these disorders may vary considerably in severity and depend on the specific subtype. However, some symptoms may include chronic, persistent infections, developmental delays due to infection, dysfunction of certain organs, and increased vulnerability to autoimmune disorders or blood cancers such as lymphoma. Treatment of most types of primary immunodeficiency is symptomatic and supportive; patients may be told to take steps to avoid exposure to pathogens; medications to enhance immune function and fight infections are also used. To learn more about primary immunodeficiency, click here.

Sannie’s Story

Sannie is also plagued by bronchiectasis, a rare lung disease. Since she is far more vulnerable to infection that the average person, the girl receives a treatment called Polyglam on a monthly basis that help to protect her from viruses. While the treatment provides here with critical protection, Sannie still has to deal with a number of unpleasant side effects, such as infusion reactions, fatigue, vomiting, fever, rashes, headaches, and sudden changes in heart rate and blood pressure. She also takes antibiotics daily.

The van Alphen family is hoping to raise money for medical costs and so that they can travel to the Immune Deficiency Federation’s International Conference, which is to be held in Dallas, Texas. The family hopes to meet with specialists and hopefully find a safer and more effective treatment regimen.

If you would like to help Sannie and her family, click here.


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