What Should I Expect During ECP?
When the patient arrives to the clinic for ECP, labs will be drawn, and the patient will be evaluated to make sure the treatment will be safe to perform. Smaller children may need to have a unit of donor blood added to the tubing of the machine before the treatment starts. When ready, ECP will be performed using the central line or IV through a machine that is sterile. Each treatment takes between 3 and 5 hours. Once the procedure is complete, your nurse will give you instructions of how to keep your skin and eyes healthy from the sun in the 24 hours following your ECP treatment.
This treatment is not painful, and children do not need to be sedated for it. In the beginning, ECP is typically performed on two consecutive days per week for about 12 weeks. It is then spread out to be every other week, and then monthly. Patients will usually undergo ECP treatments for 4–6 months depending on their response to the therapy.
Over time, it is expected that your child’s cells will be less reactive against the body in the case of GVHD and against the solid organ that was transplanted in the case of a solid organ transplant. This will hopefully stop the progression of damage and help reverse some of the complications associated with the GVHD or organ rejection.