Well we went for it. Yesterday I had £1200 of the Hubs white blood cells pumped into my forearms. The first of a few to come over the next few months.
Despite the controversy we opted in.
In the UK Lymphocyte Immunisation Therapy, otherwise known as paternal white blood cell immunisation, doesn’t carry the same dark cloud as it does in the US. According to our immunologist it carries even less risk when using the husband’s blood as opposed to an anonymous donor. Blood products are blood products and they always pose a risk but I’m told this process is handled delicately and efficiently to ensure the highest quality.
LIT is used for a few reasons but in my case it was suggested when I had a shockingly low Leukocyte Antibody Detection, a test that determines if I produce enough antibodies to protect an embryo from rejection and stimulate growth of the placenta. As the Hubs puts it, I’m allergic to him, or not allergic to him enough.
The treatment should result in the formation of blocking antibodies in my body, allowing the protection of an embryo in the womb.
My concerns were all related to how this would affect my immune system in the long run, rather than the risks involved with introducing another’s blood product into my body. I know my husband is healthy. What I don’t know is how the introduction of his white blood cells impacts my system overall. Our immunologist assures me that I won’t be on it long term, and that we have another session coming up in a few weeks followed by another one should we be lucky enough to get another chance at conceiving again. And that it won’t damage or cause issues with my immune system.
The procedure itself was interesting. The Hubs had to be screened for HIV, Hep B and C and other infectious diseases two days before the procedure. Even though he’s been screened for these before, he had to be tested immediately before the procedure to minimise any risk to me. They say that really I’m at a risk of all of these things if he was carrying them anyway since I tend to have sex with him, but heck why take any chances. Good news is he’s clean.
Two days later we arrived at the immunologist’s office at 8am where they withdrew half a pint of blood from the Hubs using what looked like a chopstick instead of a needle. His grimace said it all. Looks like we’re both taking one for Team Sweet Pea.
We are told to go to the pharmacy, buy a tube of topical anaesthetic and put the whole thing on both undersides of my forearms at least an hour before the procedure. Wrap then in cling film and come back at 3pm. Seems rather unclinical but we do as we’re told.
We clumsily eject the contents of the tube onto my arms while perched in the middle of a busy Pret a Manger smiling at all the inquisitive, awkward glances. Wrap my arms in cling film which attracted a whole other set of glances and off we went back to the office. By then, they will have sent the blood to a specialist lab, where it was washed, treated and white blood cells extracted. The white blood cells fill a syringe that will be injected under my skin on the underside of both my forearms.
As they prepare my forearms, I ask, what can I expect, as everything I’ve read indicates that it’s excruciating. They tell me like it’s painful, like being stung by a wasp 15 times in each arm. Hmm, compared to an HSG I can handle that. I have a high tolerance for pain, especially when I know we may potentially gain from it. What will happen, I ask. They tell me I will get hot, flushed and probably will swell up on the arms. It will become itchy, scratchy, sore and might spread into a rash but after a few days it will cool down. What are the immediate risks, I ask again. Anaphylaxis, fainting, but more than likely I’ll just get a little allergic, feel stuffed up, swell up a little and have some irritation. Ok let’s do this.
Good news is the topical anaesthetic worked in some areas. The bad news is it didn’t work everywhere. Thirty wasp stings is an understatement. It hurt like a motherfucker. I watched as the skin bubbled and bruised as a little bit of liquid filled each hole. I was cooed and encouraged by the lovely nurses, reassured by the Hubs and it was over within a few minutes. I didn’t scream at the top of my lungs like the last lady. I didn’t faint like the woman last week. I just held the Hubs hand in such a way I may have cut off all circulation, judging by the way he shook it afterwards. But it’s done. And I have a nasty rash on my arms to prove it.
I’ve got to say though that’s it’s nice for once to have a procedure that abuses another part of my body, instead of my poor old miserable uterus. She thanks me for that.
Today all I feel is sore, hot and a bit unwell. It feels irritated and sore and itchy. I took a few antihistamines to stop the stuffiness which worked. Now we go back within 2 – 3 weeks for the next session. Apparently I’ll be sensitised to that one, and it will hurt less. Then we go back in early pregnancy if we are lucky enough to get that far.
Either way, I’m ready if this gets Team Sweet Pea closer to the prize. Despite the risks we are throwing everything at this. I feel like it’s where we are right now. That might change in the future but today it’s full steam ahead.