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Nationwide IVIG shortage leaves patients in need of treatment

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is made from plasma and helps people with a variety of conditions.

NORFOLK, Va. — There is a nationwide shortage of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), meaning thousands of people are not getting the treatment that they need.

IVIG is a blood product made up of antibodies and it is used for several treatments.  Linda Lilley suffers from auto-immune autonomic small fiber neuropathy and relies on the treatment to keep her living her best life. Before she got the therapy, she was having a hard time doing her day-to-day tasks.

Lilley said, “Everything started, like, 30 years ago, and I would pass out 10 to 20 times a day.”

Five years ago, Lilley started getting a form of IV therapy. The treatment allows Lilley to live her life without constant pain.

“I’ve been scared about what is going to happen," she said about the ongoing IVIG shortage. "Because without the treatments, I go back to pre-treatment days."

At Sentara Healthcare, officials say they are doing the best they can. Outpatient Infusion Center Manager Christine Ladd said the drug is made from plasma and helps people with a variety of conditions. 

Sentara has some of the drug left, but Ladd says they need to save it for those who may have a fatal disease. 

“It’s horrible to look at these patients and know their stories and know where they come from where they weren’t able to leave the house and had no muscle strength, and now looking at them with that panic knowing where they are probably going to end up. They may end up in the hospital or homebound. It’s tragic,” Ladd explained. 

Officials say the shortage could last until the end of July, which means people like Lilley must wait and use alternative therapy and hope IVIG therapy is offered again soon.

“I’m scared, I’m very scared," Lilley said. "My life changed dramatically with these treatments and no, it’s not going to take care of the disease... but what it’s given back to me is huge. I don’t want to go back there.”