Immunology

There are two major groups of diseases (immunodeficiencies) where the immune system does not work as well as it should:
  • Primary where the person is born with the problem
  • Secondary where an outside factor such as chemotherapy, severe burns or a viral infection weakens the immune system.

Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PID for short) is a group of diseases where the body has trouble fighting some infections. There are over 100 different types of PID. They occur because a particular gene (bit of DNA) controlling the white blood cells which help us to fight infections does not work as well as it should. The result is either a lack of some types of white blood cells or a lack of the proteins (for example antibodies) that these white blood cells make.

Our children's immunology team provides a service to around 450-500 children and young people across the North West of England each year. Patients are referred to us by their GP, our own Trust consultants or consultants at other hospitals across the region.

Symptoms and treatment
Immunodeficiency can be diagnosed at any age, and symptoms which may indicate a problem with your immune system include:
  • Frequent ear or chest infections which keep recurring
  • Troublesome thrush which keeps coming back
  • More than one episode of a very severe infection such as meningitis or infection of the blood stream (septicaemia).
You cannot catch primary immunodeficiency from another person. Some forms do run in families, in which case brothers or sisters, or sometimes cousins, uncles and aunts may have similar problems.

Some immunodeficiency diseases do not cause many problems and can be treated with extra vaccinations and regular antibiotics. In other immunodeficiency diseases we can replace the protein (antibody replacement therapy) or cells (stem cell transplantation) which are missing or not working properly. These treatments can enable you to live a normal life.

 

What happens when you get referred to the immunology service
If you are referred to us, you will initially come to an outpatient clinic where we will ask you about the illnesses you have had in the past and often take a blood sample. Once the blood test results are back, we will meet up with you again to discuss our conclusions, discuss what treatment is best for you and answer any questions you may have.
Transition to adult services
From the age of 16, the team will help you and your family to prepare for the move from paediatric to adult services. Adult immunodeficiency services are located at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford Royal and Preston hospitals. We will introduce you to the adult team at the most convenient location for you, and help with the gradual transfer process until you are 18.

Location
Department of Paediatric Allergy and Immunology
Royal Manchester Children's Hospital
Oxford Road
Manchester
M13 9WL

Who's Who?
Consultants

Dr Peter Arkwright
Dr Stephen Hughes

Specialist Nurse Practitioner in Immunology
Barbara Boardman
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Barbara on 0161 701 5422.