News, Child Health | 4 years ago

First Septic Shock Treatment Saves Child's Life

8-year-old Lucas Judy came to Levine Children’s Hospital with a life-threatening condition. He’s going to leave as a trailblazer. Learn how he became the first child in the world to receive a new treatment as part of a groundbreaking clinical trial at LCH.

This February, Atrium Health’s (formerly Carolinas HealthCare System’s) Levine Children’s Hospital became the first clinical trial site in the world to test a new medicine for children that can stabilize their blood pressure in life-threatening situations. 

For 8-year-old Lucas Judy, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. 

Just weeks after LCH was approved to participate in the trial, Lucas was clinically diagnosed with the flu. With an uncontrollable cough and fever, and increasingly shallow breathing, he was admitted to Levine Children’s Hospital. Within 24 hours, he was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit.

A potentially deadly combination of influenza, pneumonia and a bacterial superinfection had caused Lucas to go into septic shock. He was put on a ventilator and given two special medications called vasopressors to maintain his blood pressure, which had fallen to dangerously low levels.

“It was terrifying to see that Lucas's condition was deteriorating so quickly and that more and more had to be done to support him,” says Desiree, Lucas’s mother.

Enter LJPC-501. 

Developed by La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company, LJPC-501 was approved last December to increase blood pressure in adults with shock who have low blood pressure despite receiving current standard-of-care therapy. But it had not yet been tested in children.

Because Lucas’s condition fit the requirements for this investigational drug, LCH doctors thoroughly explained the study to his family, and they consented to his participation. 

Within three hours of taking LJPC-501, Lucas’s condition had stabilized, and he was able to come off all vasopressor support. 

“Lucas was an extremely rare scenario,” says Dwight Bailey, DO, specialty medical director of pediatric critical care at LCH, who treated Lucas. “But even though there are relatively few patients who don’t respond to the standard of care, we believe we can save lots of lives with this therapy.”

As the study lead for the trial, Dr. Bailey is hoping to enlist 10 additional pediatric intensive care units across the country to enroll about 30 more patients. LJPC-501 has yet to be approved for children outside of the study.

The first child ever to receive this medication for his condition, Lucas is expected to make a full recovery. 

“We were apprehensive about trying an experimental drug, but we were confident that the doctors at LCH had Lucas's best interest in mind,” says Desiree. “We truly felt that Lucas was in the best hands.”

 Watch our Facebook Live video of the Judy family: