Updated June 08, 2008 04:04:50 PM

Treatment begins with daily subcutaneous injections of a drug (Neupogen) to stimulate growth of new blood stem cells in the bone marrow so that they enter into the blood stream. When enough are present for an appropriate number per blood volume they are collected by a process called Apheresis. Before Apheresis a Central Venous Catheter is inserted into the chest with a tube going directly through a vein into the heart with 2 or 3 external plastic portals called lumens to facilitate IV access. A preservative is added to the 'baggies' of stem cells and they are placed in metal cases which are immersed into a container of liquid nitrogen. This aspect of treatment takes about 10 days.

After two weeks a three week stay in hospital begins with one dose (based on blood volume and body weight) of the Chemotherapy drug Melphalan administered by a 'push' IV, lasting about 2 or 3 minutes. This kills the production of the excess free light chain proteins (amyloids) but in the process takes down the body's whole immune system in the bone marrow. The next day the defrosted and warmed stem cells are administered by an IV drip, taking about 20 minutes. This procedure is called Autologous Blood Stem Cell Transplant. Comprehensive monitoring of vital signs and blood counts takes place. You are in essence given a 'virgin' immune system which takes time to rebuild. After a week injections of Neupogen and Stemgen are administered daily for a week to again promote the growth of new blood stem cells. If all goes well at the end of 3 weeks you are discharged immune-suppressed and drastically weakened.

Concurrent treatment is administered based on the specific areas of organ damage.

Follow-up monitoring and treatment is very frequent for the first several months, then after about six months or so it's on a monthly basis. At 12, 14 and 24 months post-transplant immunization vaccines (DPDT, MMR, etc) are administered. Throughout this period the body's immune system is rebuilt, the body strengthens and hopefully recovers to a state of complete remission. Unfortunately, organ damage cannot, at this time, be undone. Organ transplant, however, might be an option dependant on various factors including age and general body health.

Symptoms and Test Results
Treatment Plan A
Treatment Plan B (calendar)
ABSCT Introduction
ABSCT Hospital
ABSCT Experience

The Canadian Amyloidosis Support Network
Amyloidosis Support Network

Amyloidosis Research Foundation - my music history site