Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Boy Overcomes Fungal Infections While Fighting Cancer

This is a heartwarming story that gives hope to many others parents of children who are fighting leukaemia. As part of the treatment for leukaemia the immune system of the patient (i.e. the part located in the blood) is removed and replaced with healthy non-cancerous cells. These bone marrow transplants have revolutionised treatment for leukaemia in children and it is now a highly successful therapy.

NB The first physician to perform a successful human bone marrow transplant on a disease other than cancer was Robert A. Good at the University of Minnesota in 1968. [41]. In 1975, John Kersey, M.D., also of the University of Minnesota, performed the first successful bone marrow transplant to cure lymphoma. His patient, a 16-year-old-boy, is today the longest-living lymphoma transplant survivor. [42]
Effective though these transplants are, there is a short period of time when the patient is vulnerable  to infection. At that time infection by the fungus Aspergillus can happen and is difficult to treat. It is difficult to imagine the trauma of a parent looking after a child who is successfully treated for leukaemia over several weeks or even months but who then is afflicted with a serious fungal infection.

However in this case the child (Blake) was successfully treated for Aspergillosis using a combination of antifungal drugs and surgery to remove the infected lung lobe and all was well for the following several months. Incredibly that was not the end of the story for Blake and Aspergillosis. Following a routine checkup another fungal mass was detected in his brain and this was potentially an even more serious infection than his lung infection, but Blake recovered.

After 150 days in hospital Blake is now in remission, taking antifungal medication every day to ward off further infection. Blake was chosen by Golisano Childrens Hospital as one of their five Miracle Kids for 2014.

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