Turning a Phage: Innovative Therapy Clears Infection and Allows Heart Transplantion

Turning a Phage: Innovative Therapy Clears Infection and Allows Heart Transplantion


I first was diagnosed with nonischemic
cardiomyopathy, so heart failure and that was in 2001 so it’s been it’s been quite
a while where I kind of gradually you get better for a while and you get a
little worse but it’s a down slope you know so finally in 2007 I had a cardiac
arrest and then that I couldn’t work anymore at all after that and my wife
had ovarian cancer so we were you know dealing with that as well by 2014 I
really started to fail So Mr. Grimwood was referred to me by
the heart transplant team to see if he would be a good candidate for heart transplant
he is a patient who’s had a ventricular assist device infection for three years
and a number of places do not actually transplant such patients because these
infections are very difficult to treat in his case that had been long-standing
he’d been on IV antibiotics for about three years that had multiple surgeries
to try to resolve the infection which had failed I mean they sort of contained
it and so he had actually been turned down by five different transplant
centers for transplant because of that ongoing infection so I was really
interested in using bacteriophage therapy as an adjunct to IV antibiotics
to see if we could resolve the infection in general device infections and VAD
infections in particular are very resistant to antibiotics because the
organisms form a slime layer on the device and so antibiotics are not good
at getting rid of that slime layer and getting into it but there is literature
published showing the bacteria phages actually penetrate the slime layer very
well in the actually kill off organisms So I was interested in seeing if we
could you know continue the IV antibiotics that he had been on but also
add on IV bacteriophage therapy and so we received approval on an emergency
basis from the FDA to use bacteriophage therapy in him the thing about the phage was that there
were no side-effects that I could tell and except that I started feeling better
and better yeah so that was a preferred side effect so that that was probably the
biggest thing I because every week I was getting stronger you know and I hadn’t
really been because these antibiotics depending on which one you get they
could really knock you down so that was that was really good that that happened within a week or two yeah within two
weeks of being on the list I got the transplant
I took a they asked you if you would take a hepatitis C positive heart and I
did and that’s what I got but they’re gonna cure that too so and that’s only a
few places do that they’re throwing those organs away so you know that’ll be
great if they can really perfect that but sounds like they are they have but
there was what they they never really worried me at all about these different
things it was just well we just got to do this and then we got to do this and
so they were very supportive about it all so yeah it’s amazing
technology I think I got to read up on more on it the other thing that we’ve
done at UCSD and we’re actually at the forefront of this in terms of
transplantation is the use of hepatitis C positive organs for transplant
especially in our heart transplant center and the hepatitis C virus is
unfortunately very common in the US and it’s due in part related to the ongoing
opioid epidemic and so organs tend to be good quality organs and instead of
wasting them you know we can use them to save lives and I think that certainly
happened in Mr. Winwood’s case as well we have been treating hepatitis C
successfully in many settings including in the transplant setting and that is
our plan with him as well certainly he tolerated therapy very well he was very
compliant with medications you know along with the bacteriophage therapy and
I think as a center you know specially in terms of a heart transplant center I
think we really came together as a team and you know we tend to do that and I
think it’s a team effort it worked there’s a feeling of I don’t want to
project myself too much in the future because I don’t want to jinx it yeah
it’s all go it’s a great write down because it hadn’t been going so great
you know so yeah I just I’m just I’m just anxious to get going get back and
do a kind of a normal seed but I’m going to work on a website I think – for
educational website for patients to go – and maybe interview some of the
different doctors I’ve met and start putting together a little database that
people can go to and relax you know because a lot of people are very fearful
I just had a you know enough knowledge to know that there was technology here
that could maybe save me


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