MAYWOOD, Ill. (Nov. 3, 2014) – Doctors at Loyola University Medical Center say Lauren Bank suffered one of the worst lupus attacks they had ever seen.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which a patient’s immune system attacks normal tissue. And when Lauren arrived at Loyola’s emergency department by helicopter, virtually every organ in her body was under attack.
Lauren was unconscious, had brain inflammation and a 106-degree fever. Her kidneys were failing and she later developed heart problems. Her parents worried she might not survive.
But once Loyola physicians gave Lauren a full range of treatments to suppress her overactive immune system, she made an extraordinary recovery. Lauren, a 22-year-old college student who lives in Joliet, Ill., is in remission. Apart from feeling a bit of fatigue, she is having no fevers, joint pain or other lupus symptoms.
“I feel great,” she said.
Lauren believes she probably had lupus months before it was diagnosed at Loyola. Leading up to her attack, she had puffy eyes, suffered headaches and was tired all the time. “All I wanted to do was go to bed,” she said.
Lauren’s near-fatal lupus attack began with severe joint pain and flu-like symptoms. Her eyes couldn’t focus and she had trouble breathing. Her parents took her to a local hospital, but she continued to deteriorate until she was transferred to Loyola.
That proved to be the turning point. “I celebrate the day that Dr. Bussey and Dr. Tehrani diagnosed Lauren,” said her mother, Rohnda Bank. “Once they gave it a name I knew they could help her."
Lauren was put on steroids and other drugs to suppress her immune system. She underwent apheresis, a treatment in which her blood was circulated through a machine that removed lupus antibodies. She also was given antibiotics and intravenous immunoglobulin. Watch Lauren's story in this video.
To help stay in remission, Lauren takes lower doses of immune-suppressing drugs and comes to Loyola for regular lab tests.
“My lupus has been under control for two years,” Lauren said. “I couldn’t be more thankful."
Loyola’s board-certified rheumatologists treat patients with lupus and other complex rheumatologic diseases. Rheumatology specialists collaborate with medical and surgical specialists to provide multidisciplinary care for patients with arthritic or immune-mediated diseases.
Dr. Tehrani is an associate professor and director of the Division of Allergy/Immunology/Rheumatology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Bussey is an assistant professor in the Division of Allergy/Immunology/Rheumatology.