Cameron made a little bit of history this week, he became the first child in Northern Ireland to have a treatment called plasmapheresis for his condition, only the fourth in the UK. The Plasmapheresis involves him being hooked up to a big machine that removes his blood from his body via a central line that is inserted under general anaesthetic in theatre. When the blood is removed, the plasma (containing the large proteins) is separated out from the platelets and red cells by the machine, and discarded (this is the large bag of rather dodgy coloured liquid, collecting at the back and then being held up after treatment finished, 2 litres are removed each time). Before his blood is returned to his body new plasma is added, this is contained in the glass bottles hanging on the right of the picture (below far right). The reason the Cameron is having this treatment is because the antibodies that are attacking his brain take shelter in the large proteins in his plasma. Therefore the thinking is, remove the bad plasma and you remove the antibodies. If the treatment works it can improve but not eriadicate symptoms for a period of time, how long for is not set in stone, this issue being Cameron's blood will eventually start remaking its own plasma. A key part in getting the treatment to last is keeping him free of infection, this can prove extremely difficult for a 12 year old !!! Strictly speaking he should be kept away from crowds, especially in confined spaces, like supermarkets etc. If he should be in these places he should be wearing a mask to prevent infection. However trying to convince him to wear a mask over his mouth and nose to youth club and carry a bottle hand gel in his pocket is nee on impossible!!! Youth club is one of the very very few places he is still able to go to to socialise with his friends, and he absolutely hates hates hates being made or noticed to be different!!! We will have to pick our battle where this is concerned over the coming weeks!
The photo above far left shows the machine separating the red cells and platelets from the plasma, the actual spinning of the blood to cause the separation happens down inside the machine.
A team from the renal unit at the City Hospital come over to carry out the treatment, he is monitored continually throughout as his blood pressure is obviously affected. He gets very cold during it as well. He was fascinated by the cost of the machine £55,000 !!