I have some new news about Stephen's blood work/labs that I thought I would share. Late last week, CHOP got the final results of Stephen's viral studies from our visit on March 26th, and it turns out that Stephen has picked up cytomegalovirus (CMV). CMV is one of the big viruses that doctors monitor before transplant and then closely after transplant. It's also one of the viruses that are checked in the donor prior to transplant. It's a common virus that is spread through the community and shows itself as a common cold, cough, or fever, but for transplant patients who are under a lot of immune suppression, it can cause serious damage to the transplanted organ. For 6 months post-transplant, while Stephen was under a lot of immune suppression, he was taking a medication called Valcyte, which prevented CMV. And CMV, along with EBV, is checked routinely at transplant clinic (if you remember, Stephen got EBV pre-transplant and spent some time in the hospital fighting it off and it ultimately caused his transplant to be re-scheduled at the last minute).
Thankfully, when it was really critical right after transplant, Stephen did not get CMV, but, his blood work showed copies of the virus this last time. They're low numbers at this time, which we're happy about and for right now, the only course of action is to stop his CellCept and start the Valcyte again and check his numbers at the next visit. So, we're just swapping one medication for another and hoping that his numbers will decline in a few weeks.
I've spoken with the transplant coordinator and doctor at length about this because the acronym "CMV" is a scary one, but it sounds like valcyte is a great treatment and if for some reason, it doesn't work, they can administer an IV medication as an infusion (one he's had in the past for other infections). But Stephen seems to find away to kick these viruses to the curb without too much hassle. He's kicked EBVs butt and BKs butt, so I don't think CMV will be any different.