Bernice suffered coughs and colds throughout her life. To her, it wasn’t a great surprise that she had another ‘cold’. This time, however, her sore throat was severe. Something wasn’t right – it really hurt to swallow, she had a high fever and felt awful. When she came into the hospital, the doctors quickly realized she had an abscess in her neck. She needed a procedure to drain the pus before the situation worsened. Powerful antibiotics would help eradicate the infection. Luckily Bernice recovered and she was discharged home.
A few weeks later she returned to the hospital with another fever and not feeling well. This time, one of the doctors realized she probably had an immunodeficiency that contributed to her chronic ill health. Special lab tests were sent that showed she had a gamma globulin deficiency. Her body wasn’t making a certain group of proteins that helped fight infection. The problem is actually somewhat common and can manifest as frequent coughs and colds to more serious infections such as pneumonia. With this diagnosis, Bernice was given an infusion of ‘IVIG’ or intravenous immunoglobulin which restored the natural balance. Now her body could fight off those germs!
IVIG is made from volunteers who donate plasma for use in the product. A special process purifies the immunoglobulins, allowing them to be used in patients that desparately need them.
Bernice called me a few months later to report how her life had changed. No longer was she sickly all the time, but instead was living a more complete life. She had even gained a few pounds of healthy weight. Her life was so much better now thanks to all the self-less donors out there.
If you have ever donated blood or blood products, THANK YOU. If you are interested to donate, please visit Red Cross to find out when and where you can give. So many times in the hospital I’ve seen patients receive some type of donated blood product. It’s an anonymous gift that means a tremendous amount to the patients and their families. So many lives are changed because of these donations. Thanks to each of you for these small miracles!