Many of you may not be familiar with SCID; I have to admit, with all I do know, this was something new to me. One of my good friends has a nine-month-old boy who was diagnosed with this scary disease this past summer. SCID stands for severe combined immunodeficiency. You might better know it as the "bubble boy" illness, after the boy who lived for almost 12 years in a sterile environment because of SCID.
Once these individuals are diagnosed, they are hospitalized indefinitely to receive treatment for any infections and to receive curative treatment. For these patients, even a standard cold could prove fatal, because they literally have no immune system.
My friend's son has had several lung infections, including fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. He gets CT scans every two weeks checking for healing of these infections, so that he can start chemotherapy (or "conditioning," as they call it) to knock out the rest of his cells and ready him for a stem cell transplant, which will be done with cord blood. One of the more recent CTs was inconclusive; the doctors said they couldn't tell if his lungs were still badly infected or if they were just scarred from all the infections.
At his young age, he has already had several IVs, a PICC, and now a Broviac catheter. He is being treated at one of the best hospitals for this disease: Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, the same place the bubble boy was treated.
Though this disease has an unknown genetic link, it affects 1 in 2,500 Navajo children; the general population has an incidence of 1 in 100,000. Besides the stem cell transplant my friend's son will be receiving, there is now another possible treatment option: gene therapy. However, it is not commonly used, because it was found in studies to cause leukemia in these children.
We all know someone who has been affected with some sort of extreme illness. As oncology nurses, we are more attuned to cancer and the lives it can affect. After recently learning of SCID, I couldn't help but wonder what other noncancer illnesses we could treat with chemotherapy and biotherapy medications. I recently learned about it being used experimentally to cure hemophilia. As hematology/oncology nurses, we need to be aware of the treatment options available to other patients experiencing noncancer diseases such as multiple sclerosis and aplastic anemia.
Are you administering chemotherapy and biotherapy treatments to patients with noncancer illnesses? If so, what type of illnesses did you treat?