Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The treatment (HSCT)

What is HSCT?

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant attempts to restart your immune system so that it stops attacking your body. Chemotherapy destroys and wipes out the faulty immune system. You healthy stem cells that are transplanted back into the body are "wiped of the attack mode" they were assigned. The new cells go where they are needed to repair and grow a healthy new immune system. This is the primary function of stem cell re-infusion, to rebuild the new system and expedite recovery. The stem cells aren't the cure, the chemotherapy is. As we say in our support group "No Chemo, No Cure!".

While this isn't a true "cure" it is a successful method for remission, which for most of us is all we could ask for. We hope to stop progression and work to getting our function and abilities back that were lost due to our disease.

Treatment Purpose

This treatments goal is to reset my immune system so that it stops attacking my nerve myelin. If successful it would provide remission from the immune attack, therefore halting progression of the disease. 
Reversal or improvement of current symptoms is considered a "bonus". While something certainly hoped for, I would be grateful if we halt it's progression forward. Several veterans of this procedure have seen varying degrees of improvement over time, with full treatment results seen at the 2 year mark post HSCT completion.

Schedule for Transplant

  • Pretesting (complete)
  • Mobilization (2 weeks): Outpatient. One day of inpatient Chemo and  one week of shots to stimulate stem cell production.
  • Harvest (1 day): All day with a blood filtering machine that collects stem cells via jugular catheter
  • Inpatient First Leg (1 week): Inpatient receiving Chemotherapy and rATG (rabbit derived immuno-suppressant) to wipe out the bad immune system
  • Day 0: Referred to as our new "birthday", we receive our collected stem cells back, which begin to rebuild the immune system
  • Recovery (9 - 12 days): The remaining days are spent inpatient, waiting for blood counts to reach safe levels for discharge

Recovery Time (at home)

  • Long term recovery (4-6 months): Spent working on healing and strength, in preparation for my 6 month check up in Chicago. Retesting my nerves will show the improvement thus far.
  • Ongoing checkups: after my 6 month checkup, i will return to Chicago for every one year anniversary until the 5th year. Total healing benefit is seen at the two year mark

Auto Immune Diseases currently treated by HSCT in Chicago:

These are just a few of the AI that HSCT is used to treat: Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS), Systemic Scleroderma, Systemic Lupus, CIDP, Device Disease (NMO).

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