Plasmapheresis, Round One

Yesterday I had my first round of plasmapheresis to try to lower my antibody level. They basically took out my plasma (the part of my blood that contains the antibodies) and replaced it with super filtered/purified plasma from lots of other people. I used to donate plasma in college to earn some extra money, and then after developing anti-kell antibodies, I have regularly donated plasma in Indianapolis to be used in a red cell antibody study. It was strange to be on the receiving end of the plasma this time. The procedure went well with very few side effects. It felt so amazing to finally be doing something to help keep my baby safe. With Lucy they told me there was nothing we could do except wait and see if she got anemic, then try to treat the anemia with intrauterine blood transfusions. It was a terrible feeling to just wait and do nothing, knowing my own body might be attacking and hurting her. This approach is much more proactive, trying to PREVENT the baby from getting anemic in the first place. I wish this treatment had been offered when I was pregnant with Lucy. I wish they had said yes when I asked them to try this treatment with Lucy.

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Right before the procedure started the doctor drew blood to check my antibody titer (level) and then he also checked it again after the treatment was over. I was actually afraid the treatments wouldn’t even work since my body never seems to cooperate and I am usually the “worst case scenario” when it comes to this kind of thing. My antibody titer has always been 1,024. The whole time I was pregnant with Lucy, during this whole pregnancy and all the time in between when I wasn’t pregnant the antibody titer was 1,024. Well, the doctor texted me last night to let me know my starting titer before the plasmapheresis was 512! And even better- after the treatment it was 128! I couldn’t believe it. I started crying immediately. It truly felt like a miracle. I don’t know what would have made the titer stay the same for years and suddenly decrease. I’m also so pleased that the treatments lowered it from 512 to 128. For the first time during this pregnancy I have felt hopeful about the possibility of actually bringing this baby home ALIVE.

Josh and I were so thrilled but soon after hearing the test results, doubt started creeping back in. With Lucy we had several “miracles” like this where we thought something amazing had happened and she was saved, only to get the worst news after that. I felt so silly looking back at old journal entries and Facebook updates where I had been so hopeful and thanked God for a miracle, then she died. I know the antibodies can come back and even if they didn’t, they could still kill this baby at a level of 128. I am tempted to let go of all the hope, to explain the good test results away and to not give God the glory. I am tempted to say “____________ happened with Lucy, so ____________ will happen with this baby.” We have had such a string of tragedies happen in a very short amount of time, I am realizing that my mind has been reprogrammed to automatically think the worst. It’s easy to let doubt, fear and cynicism creep in and steal my joy and my hope. Satan’s main goal is to feed us lies and to steal, kill and destroy. Well, I am stopping him in his tracks right now and I am not going to let him take this miracle away from us. Yesterday was a victorious day and I am deciding to keep the hope and praise God for what He did. He is faithful, even when I am doubtful and afraid. His mercies are new every morning. Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful gift. I praise you for what you did yesterday and for what you are going to do through this baby in the coming months.

Thank you all for praying for our baby and for constantly encouraging us. Please pray that the treatments continue to bring the antibody titer down and that they STAY down. I have two more rounds of plasmapheresis this week and then IVIG treatments start next week.

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4 thoughts on “Plasmapheresis, Round One

  1. Yay! That’s so awesome, Bethany! Thank you, Lord! You are so brave and strong. I’m glad it decreases to once a week after this week. One day at a time, friend. You are already past 1/4 of the way to beautiful baby.

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