Now, the bad news: Ezra made no antibody response to the vaccine. In addition, he now has lower numbers of the type of B cell responsible for making IgG/antibodies than he did last month. His IgG has also continued to drop, albeit slowly. These results are confusing because he now has a lot more T cells and is on a lower doses of steroids, which should have meant improved immune function.
There are several possible explanations. When he got the vaccine in the beginning of September, we knew it was a long shot that he would respond because he had very few T cells and was still on steroids and an immune suppressant (as he still is today). Although he now has more T cells, they are new and need time to start functioning properly. He also had plenty of antibodies left in his system from his last round of high dose IVIG in June, which can prevent or mask an immune response. In addition, he only received one round of the vaccine and it can take more than one shot to build immunity (there's a reason kids get so many rounds of the same vaccine).
The doctor we saw on Friday decided to give Ezra another round of the vaccine. We're not sure it's going to work this time around either. Although he is on a low dose of steroids, we have not yet started to wean his immune suppressant, and that drug can prevent an antibody response. They are also going to run another test on Ezra's T cells later this week that may tell us more about whether the T cells are functioning properly.
We can't help but feel uneasy about all this. Although Ezra is 100% donor, functionally his immune system right now is looking very similar to how it looked before transplant. We know that some patients, particularly immune deficient patients, do not obtain full immune function after transplant. We are hoping this is not Ezra's fate. Most likely, it is too early to draw conclusions, and we just need to do what we have learned we must always do - have patience with this terribly long journey.
Ezra had been looking forward to Halloween at the hospital, and he had good reason to look forward to it because the pediatric hospital transforms into a magical place for Halloween. Every area has a different theme; the walls are covered in scenery; and everyone from the doctors to the maintenance staff wear costumes. Sadly, Ezra's day was ruined by the surprise shot. While getting a vaccine is a "normal" kid problem, Ezra has been through too much trauma and pain, and he needs to be prepared in advance for any challenges. That wasn't possible on Friday, and he was very upset. Our poor little Stooge wasn't able to nyuk it up as much as we all expected.
Thankfully, on Thursday, Ezra's wonderful teachers and therapists came over to give him a Halloween celebration, complete with trick or treating throughout the house. We are very blessed to have such a passionate team working with Ezra who are constantly thinking of ways to help him and bring more life to his days.
For those of you who don't follow Ezra's Facebook page, last Sunday's Walk for Life was incredible. We raised over $28,000, which will all go to adding more donors to the registry! Ezra was able to attend and cheer on Team Ezra. He was thrilled to have been there. It was an uplifting and inspiring day for us all. These are the moments of good that carry us through the uncertainty that continues to surround us.