Walter van Praag has Cystic Fibrosis and does inspirational adventures to raise awareness and funds for CF and encourage people to become Organ Donors.
This year Walter is travelling to the USA to get Phage Therapy to eradicate an antibiotic-resistant bacteria out of his lung. Phage Therapy is a serious contender to replace, or at least adjunct antibiotics treatment to fight antibiotic-resistant infections.
Without any further problems we drove to the city of Wroclaw where the famous Ludwig Hirszfeld Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy is situated. The Phage Therapy Unit in their Medical Centre (IIET PAS) has been conducting research on the biological properties and the application of bacteriophages for several decades. They isolate bacteriophages and prepare phage formulations for different hospitals in Poland for their respective phage therapy since the 1970s - see their website - www.iitd.pan.wroc.pl/en/OTF
At this stage it has become clear to us that although phages appear to be commonly used in Poland since the institute has supplied hospitals since the 1970s, the three different pharmacies we visited today only know of antibiotic prescriptions and standard cough medicine. Worse still, the pharmacists themselves are very puzzled by phages, even when I show the products on the internet or the website of the institute. One pharmacist went as far to say that these are only for medical experiments by scientists and not used in the Polish medical profession. This is exactly what I get told in Australia by my doctors. Yes, I am a little disappointed and very confused. I have seen documentaries from SBS etc. where doctors from the institute in Poland were asked why this therapy is not available in other European countries to which they have no answers as they operate under the same European protocols according to the 'Declaration of Helsinki for the Medical Profession Act - 5th December 1996....
In any case, we may need to visit ex-Soviet countries such as the Ukraine next door... This was not part of the original plan but maybe worthwhile as I really want to see how phage-based medicine is dispensed in some countries, and we are so close here.
Cindy and I did an introduction to Poland session with Marta, a young professional (an Airbnb event) in a local cafe for 2 hours and have established a good contact to help us in case we run into trouble or need some translation help.
My health is holding out although I am coughing up more blood. I would love to try some phage options ASAP. Just to recap my expectations, a commercial phage preparation for my pseudomonas aeruginosa is likely to lessen my infection temporarily, but to eradicate my infection I will need specific targeted phage therapy in conjunction with antibiotics over a period of weeks or months which is not something I'm expecting to get on this trip. I am however expecting to get some phage treatment and obtain a lot of relief, including an albeit temporary but significant increase in lung function.