Fall River boy to undergo treatment using HIV virus

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 --- 10:25pm

A Fall River family will soon travel nearly a thousand miles in hope of saving their son's life with the help of the HIV virus.

Austin Schuetz is 5 years old and battling leukemia. He was diagnosed back in May 2011. He was doing well with treatment in the beginning and a had year of chemotherapy treatment. But, then near the end of 2012, he relapsed.

The Schuetz family had just one option at the time: a bone marrow transplant. But, even after getting that done, the chances of a relapse were high.

The family then heard about a new treatment in Philadelphia. T cells from a person's body are collected. They're then modified to become killer T cells. The transformation occurs with the help of the use of a modified version of the HIV virus. The cells are then infused back into the person's body.

It seems like a crazy idea, but the success rate is quite high; an 80 percent chance of remission among the handful who've undergone this.

"This is an option that didn't exist a year ago so we have to go forth with it because we don't have a choice. It's just something we have to do to get him healthy for once and for all and get rid of these cancer cells” says Kim Schuetz, Austin's mom.

The Schuetz family is leaving for Philly on September 21. They'll be there for about 6 weeks.

On November 2, a 5k run/walk will take place, in Fall River, with a spaghetti dinner the night before. Proceeds from these two events go to "Austin’s Courage,” which will help pay for the travel expenses and treatment in Philadelphia.

For more information head to: https://docs.google.com/file/d/151ET1QpD3MLJBKYkl04wkDa1bJ2N1QQOhmXtJb5x7yZd0PVmS8vsLl4ECZ7U/edit?pli=1

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