Throughout her childhood, Megan Bringe always seemed to be feeling under the weather, constantly battling ear infections, sore throats and other maladies.
Doctors told her she’d “grow out of it.” She didn’t.
In the fall of 2009, Megan, then a student at Ohio University, nearly lost her life to H1N1 (swine flu) and was forced to leave school and spend the next year and a half in the full-time care of her family.
Now 22, Megan, the granddaughter of Margie Bringe of Martin, and James and Donna Firestone of Genoa, finally has a diagnosis for her chronic sickness – Primary Inmmunodeficiency Disease (PIDD).
PIDD is a defect of the immune system that prevents the production of antibodies needed to fight colds, flu, or infections.
“I was that kid who always caught the latest cold or flu going around. I was that kid that got sick at summer camp, school trips, and family vacations – it was so frustrating to be sick all the time,” Megan said. “My family never gave up trying to find answers and we knew something was terribly wrong.
“My doctors would focus on treating each symptom individually and never thought to link all my symptoms together to an immune defect,” she said. “I did my best to lead a normal life, but each year my health declined and my activities of daily living became so difficult.”
It was March 2011 when an immunologist tested Megan for PIDD. Test results showed she was not producing the antibodies her immune system needed to fight colds, flu, or infections. “Finally – I had answers,” she said.
Megan must give herself antibody replacement infusions every five days for the rest of her life. “My antibody infusions come from generous plasma donors,” she said. “I am so grateful to anyone who donates plasma for helping to save my life and so many others like me.
“Too often it takes years for people to be diagnosed with PIDD – when a simple blood test by an immunologist can determine this defect of the immune system,” Megan said. “It is believed thousands of people go undiagnosed with PIDD each year and could benefit from antibody replacement infusions like me.”
Though Megan still has some difficult symptoms that she may never reverse because of going undiagnosed for so many years, she is no longer in the full-time care of her family. She has returned to Ohio University to finish her degree.
“Despite my diagnosis – I am determined to finish what I started,” she said.
To learn more about Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PIDD), visit the Immune Deficiency Foundation’s website at www.primaryimmune.org .
Warning signs of PIDD include:
• Four or more ear infections in a year;
• Two of more serious sinus infections in a year;
• Two or more months on antibiotics with little to no effect;
• Two or more pneumonias within one year;
• Failure of an infant or child to gain weight;
• Persistent thrush or fungal infections;
• Persistent GI complications (digestive issues);
• Chronic colds, flu, fevers (much more than “normal”).
Megan Bringe, daughter of Genoa High School graduates Clarence Bringe and Janet Firestone, battled with chronic illness until she was diagnosed with Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PIDD) in 2011.