Lymphocyte immunotherapy. LIT.
This is what we will be going through to address our repeated pregnancy loss.
In simple terms, my body is perfectly healthy. It's just that I only ''recognize'' 4% of the other types of blood or tissue out there. Something like that. The doctor showed us a chart and one column had 4% on it when she said it should be at least 80% if we want our next pregnancy to carry to full-term.
I asked the doctor if this was hereditary. She said no and that it's just the ''luck of the draw''. Had I married someone else, this may not even be an issue. Haha. So I was telling C that maybe to make things less complicated and less expensive, we can just find new spouses. Hahaha!
In the distant future, these kinds of things may influence dating as we know it now. Maybe people will be carrying some kind of mini blood testing kit to see if they are a good match. Hahaha.
I'm going to share things about this journey, in case someone who needs info stumbles upon this blog. How I wish someone had shared this information with me when I had my first miscarriage.
A brief backgrounder. We've been married 10 years now. It's been a really good ride and we really pushed back having kids because we felt we weren't ready yet. 2010 was the year we were going to stop trying NOT to get pregnant. But in March 2009, I got lazy in keeping my BBT (basal body temperature) chart and we got pregnant. It was a shock and initially I felt devastated. But a baby is just difficult not to love, even when it's just a tiny speck in your tummy. I fell in love with the little spot on the ultrasound. We miscarried in May and were told to just try again. That miscarriages happen to almost 50% of first pregnancies.
So try again we did. We got pregnant again in October and miscarried in December. It was devastating. Then our OB recommended we see an immunologist, to see why my body was terminating the pregnancy.
I already had a feeling that something was wrong with my immune system because it seemed to be getting better at ''catching'' the pregnancy early on. Why so? In our first pregnancy, the ultrasound showed a gestational sac and a yolk sac. 2 of the 3 things doctors expect to find in a healthy, early pregnancy. With the second, there was only the gestational sac. I imagined my antibodies going: "Oh hey here comes that thing again. We saw that a couple of months, remember? Let's get it now while it's early!" Whereas in the first pregnancy they were still forming committees and evaluating if the "foreign object" was friend or foe. With the second, they knew right away and took action quickly.
I was right with my hunch.
We went to see the immunologist right before Christmas. She ordered a long list of blood tests. We had already done some research and found out that the tests were cheapest at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). I started following a discussion on a female forum and all the girls there were recommending taking the tests at PGH.
The PGH Medical Research Laboratory was closed for the holidays so we had to wait till January to get our tests done. We went there one weekday last week and paid P12K for all the tests, including the one for Autoimmune Phospholipid Syndrome (APAS) and Lymphocyte Antibody Test (LAT). We went on a Monday for my blood extraction and got the results on Friday. The people at PGH-MRL are some of the kindest hospital staff I've ever encountered.
We went back to the immunologist last Saturday and she said I don't have APAS (the most common immune problem I've been hearing of) but my LAT shows that I have low recognition of C's tissue, thus the repeated pregnancy loss.
Our next step is LIT, to get my body to accept C's tissue. According to the immunologist, statistically, after four sessions of LIT, the body responds well and the percentage increases to at least 80% and it's safe to try getting pregnant again.
LIT involves extracting blood from the husband. The lab then extracts his lymphocytes or white blood cells from this. The lymphocyte is what the immunologist will now inject into the wife (skin level, like a patch test).
Our next step is a blood screening for C. To make sure he doesn't have diseases that he can transfer to me. The list is long again, like HIV, hepatitis and even malaria. We went to St. Luke's for the screening but were turned off by the cost of the screening. It's P6K plus. We will check with PGH if there is another lab that can do the screen for less. PGH does it for free but only for people donating blood to patients there. C joked that maybe he should donate blood to get the screen for free. Hahaha.
I forgot to mention that each LIT session costs P14K. It can be done weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Depends on how urgently you want to get pregnant, I guess. After several sessions, you can get another LAT or blood test to determine if your body has responded well and you are okay to get pregnant again.
We are thinking of having our first two LIT sessions this Saturday and the next. We need to skip the first Saturday in February because I'll be at the beach with friends (heehee) and you can't get the injection spot wet for 48hrs after. But we're also considering doing the every other week schedule which means we'll wait till next Saturday to start with the LIT. Will keep you posted on what we decide.
I hope this will be of some help to another woman going through the same thing.
We are quite upbeat and hopeful. We praise God for the doctors and people who have been very helpful. Also for the resources that He provides. We will do our part and leave the rest to God.