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Children's Now Offering Photopheresis Therapy

BIRMINGHAM – Children who have received organ transplants and those being treated for lymphoma, dermatitis and graft-versus-host disease now have a new option for care at Children’s of Alabama.

Children’s Acute Renal Therapy team recently began providing extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) for its patients. After months of planning and training, Children’s first photopheresis treatment was successfully provided on April 12. Previously, Children’s patients were being transported to and from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for this treatment.

“This is truly cutting-edge medicine and offers a unique therapy to improve our patient's quality of life and the life of the transplanted organ,” said Gwen Gardner, director of transplant services and ambulatory operations. “This unique therapy would not be possible without the expertise of our acute therapy nurses, physician vision and oversight, support of our leadership team and strong collaboration with the heart transplant and stem cell team.”

Photopheresis was first approved by the FDA in 1988 to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Since then the treatment has shown to be effective in the treatment of other disorders, including graft-versus-host disease, solid organ transplant rejection, atopic dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The treatment works by separating the white cells from the whole blood. The white blood cells are then combined with a photoactive drug and exposed to UVA light. The treated white cells are then returned to the patient where they interact with the patient's immune system. The photopheresis process lasts about three hours.

Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient and outpatient services throughout central Alabama. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s provided care for youngsters from every county in Alabama, 41 other states and eight foreign countries last year, representing more than 677,000 outpatient visits and more than 15,000 inpatient admissions. With more than 2 million square feet, Children’s is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. More information is available at