Catching mono could save my life
There’s good news and bad news on the transplant front. I have an approved donor and can schedule a transplant. Doing so at this point could give me a nasty form of cancer that would likely kill me. Catching mono before the transplant would greatly reduce the odds of that. Do you know anyone in the Minneapolis area with mono who would save my life by sharing a drink with me?
That probably seems like a really odd request, so let me provide some more information.
The main reason it has been so hard to find a good transplant match for me is that I don’t have antibodies against Epstein-Barr Virus (the virus that causes mononucleosis). EBV infection is usually pretty harmless, but, when combined with immune suppression in the aftermath of a transplant, it has been strongly correlated the development of a rare form of cancer called post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD). According to information from my nephrologist (who got it from a peer-reviewed, electronic medical database called UpToDate which was updated in April 2012), the overall rate of PTLD among kidney transplant patients is 1-3%, but the risk is 24 times higher for EBV-negative recipients. PTLD is fatal 65-75% of the time. Even when not fatal, treatment can involve all the nastiness usually involved in cancer treatment as well as a reduction of immune suppression, which can lead to rejection of the new kidney.
I would obviously like to avoid all of that. The best way for me to minimize my chances of catching PTLD are to get EBV before a transplant. People are most contagious when they have mono. I want to find someone in the Minneapolis area who has mono and share a drink (or a few) with that person, since mono is spread through saliva.
I’ve talked to many nurses and doctors about this plan. They have generally endorsed it (with varying degrees of explicitness). Getting mono isn’t 100% safe, but it is better than the alternative, and the risk is mine to take.
I would greatly appreciate your help getting the word out about this. I would much rather find someone through Facebook or a friend than post on craigslist or something more anonymous. Thanks!
Edit: There’s no shot or vaccine they can give me, unfortunately.
Edit2: Thanks for all the messages! I have a bunch of good leads and will follow-up soon.