gamma globulin

Seven years ago this week Michael and I had just returned home from Beth Israel Deaconess and Children’s Hospitals in Boston. At 33 weeks gestation, I had spent the day undergoing a tiresome series of tests and screenings, including a fetal MRI. The radiologists and neurologists believed they saw in the magnetic images evidence of slight hemorrhaging in Calvin’s brain. They surmised a clot had created a backup of cerebral spinal fluid causing his lateral ventricles to enlarge, thus damaging a significant amount of his white matter. The theory was that a platelet incompatibility between Michael and me might have induced the bleeding. Their solution was to give me an IVIG–Intravenous Gamma Globulin—a plasma protein blood product described to me as an anti-antibody-antibody. In other words, the IVIG was meant to kill off my antibodies, which appeared to be killing off Calvin’s platelets. At least that was the idea.

The procedure, which took place in a sterile florescent-lit room at five o’clock in the evening, and which was supposed to take only two or three hours, took nine. I laid in bed while the nurse administered fluid from several consecutive clear plastic IV bags, drop by drop, into the vein in my arm. The contents of the bags were painstakingly concocted in the blood bank in the hospital's bowels, no doubt by white-jacketed technicians wearing latex gloves. What was nine hours seemed more like an eternity, staring at mostly blank walls punctuated with shining fixtures, black hoses and plastic wrapped instruments. The minutes inched by as we sat wearily, the desolation broken, occasionally, by squeaks and shuffles of rubber clogs on the waxed linoleum floor. At 2:30 a.m. we finally left the hospital, completely fatigued, and drove on deserted streets to the nearby home of a kind physician—a friend of my sister’s. She met us at the door and showed us quietly downstairs to a dimly lit, cozy basement room. After a solid, albeit brief, sleep we awoke early and embarked on our three hour drive home to Maine.

In an effort to avoid further complications in utero, an early cesarean had been scheduled, in Boston, with scores of specialists and some blood bank donor platelets for Calvin if he needed them. But a few days after returning home from Boston, not long after the IVIG, in the middle of the night my water broke. We were at week 34, in the heart of an ice storm and Calvin had started making his way into the world.

Please donate this month to epilepsy research for a cure, on behalf of Calvin, at:


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