So… Seattle?

 

After 3 months of exhaustive research, the choice is clear.  Seattle, here we come!

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Dear friends, family, and supporters of Idan,

Three months ago, when Idan was diagnosed with an extremely rare immune deficiency, we decided that nothing would stop us in our search for a cure. We sought out and consulted every Hyper IGM expert and transplant center that might have experience treating this terrible genetic disorder, and today we can happily announce we have found that place, and hope to be moving forward with transplant in September.

Like his father had done before him, we created a Team Idan, and read and gathered any piece of published data on Hyper IGM. We consulted and/or visited dozens of experts in the US, Israel, Canada, and Europe, including doctors in New York, Boston, Durham NC, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Texas, Chicago, and Seattle, as well as the National Institute of Health, Toronto, the U.K., and Israel.   We spoke to patients from Florida, Utah, Illinois, New Jersey, and England.  We dove deep into the science behind the immune system, and learned the names of a dozen chemotherapy drugs, immunosuppressants and steroids as well as their side affects and toxicity levels.  We have become what they call “e-patients,” determined to be fully engaged in Idan’s treatment and cure. But in the end, we heard over and over again, both from doctors and from other patients, we should go with our gut. After all the research was done, after every rock was unturned, we should go with the centers and doctors we trusted the most. That center is Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Of course, the first and main reason we chose Seattle is that they have the expertise to transplant and cure Idan, boasting lower risks of death, long-term complications, and toxicity from the chemo. As we have mentioned before, there are three categories of “fatal” complications in a bone marrow transplant:  (1) complications from the chemo; (2) infections; and (3) graft versus host disease.  Each hospital has a different approach to managing it, but we’ve found that there is one drug that is being used only in Seattle that can substantially reduce all three of these risks here.  This drug is called Treosulfan.  This drug is widely used in Europe and Asia, but has yet to get FDA approval in the United States.  Seattle was using the drug as part of a clinical trial several years ago, and has been granted an IND to continue using the drug.  The rest of the hospitals use a drug called Busulfan that carries significantly more risks of short term and long-term side complications (including sterility), and yet Treosulfan is equally capable of wiping out the immune system to allow for full engraftment.

To add to this, the bone marrow transplant was actually invented in Seattle and the lab that our immunologist runs there was the first to discover Hyper IGM; they are without a doubt both pioneers and leaders in this field. The transplant floor is brand new, built last year by the Gates family, and is clean and high-tech. If we have to live in a hospital 24/7 for 4-6 months, this new facility is a huge plus. Lastly, we truly loved the doctors and nursing staff and the rest of the friendly people we met at the center. We have been getting good vibes from Seattle for a couple of months now, and turns out that was the gut feeling we were waiting for.

It is still going to be an uphill battle. Even before Idan starts the chemo to make room in his bone marrow for the donor transplant, we are dealing with dire financial issues that no one in our situation should ever have to deal with. The estimate we have received from the hospital for the transplant is between $600,000 and $1,000,000. They, like other centers, gave us information about fundraising, like contacting local communities and having a bake sale. Our insurance plan will likely only pay about half of this, and rest will be on us. And to add to this, we both have to move away for 6 months and take an unpaid leave, while paying out of pocket for the health plan through COBRA and probably purchasing a second plan.

This is where you come in. We cannot thank you enough for your help and support in the past few months. We never would have had the strength necessary to find the right doctor and hospital for Idan if not for the constant support and encouragement we have received from our family, friends, and strangers worldwide.  We have raised more funds then we ever thought possible, but we are still less then half way to our goal. We hope we can once again call on you to help spread the word about Idan. We have seen amazing responses every time Idan’s story goes out to a community, synagogue or church listserve. We have seen great responses every time someone writes an article in a local paper. And we have seen amazing responses when you shared our story to your email contacts, or on social media. Please continue to share our story and help us cure our son.

Last night, there was a moment when we felt it was all for nothing – that all of our consultations, trips, and hours spent into the night researching conditioning protocols, complications, and long term risks, would be totally derailed by an inability to afford the care our son so desperately needs.  And in that moment, we felt utterly defeated.  This morning, after scrolling down and seeing the thousands of wishes and prayers and words of encouragement on Idan’s fundraising andFacebook page, we know we can face this challenge too.

With much gratitude,

Akiva, Amanda and Idan

P.S. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for more updates and cute pictures and videos of Idan.

 

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