Evansville woman receives newly approved COVID-19 antibody treatment

Evansville woman receives newly approved COVID-19 antibody treatment
Published: Jan. 9, 2022 at 10:26 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A new monoclonal antibody treatment has been approved for emergency use, and an Evansville nurse is one of the first people to receive it.

Jess Schnur received a lifesaving liver transplant in August 2021. It saved her life, but made her very immunocompromised. She can’t get her COVID-19 booster shot because of it, so she says this new treatment is the next best thing.

You could say Schnur was reborn into a new life last year when she found out an autoimmune disease was making her liver fail at 30-years-old.

“Then to hear, ‘Okay, you need a liver transplant. We can get you to 40, probably not 45,′ and that just stunned us,” Schnur said. “Christmas last year was like, ‘This is my last Christmas, I don’t know if I’ll get a transplant.’”

You could say this new life began on August 13, 2021, when she found a donor, or as she says, her donor found her.

“I got really sick in August and had to be rushed for an emergency surgery on a GI bleed, and while I was there I progressively got worse, and they actually found a liver while I was in the hospital,” Schnur said.

A pretty lucky Friday the 13th for Schnur, but it came with a price. It left her very immunocompromised. Common in transplant patients, but not ideal during a pandemic.

So she joined a study with Johns Hopkins at Indiana University Health for a treatment called Evushield. It’s a monoclonal antibody treatment that gives protection for patients like Schnur, who can’t get vaccinated or boosted because of their weak immune systems.

“It’s a dual monoclonal antibody shot that helps prevent the patients that aren’t getting the full effects of the vaccine,” Schnur said.

Approved for emergency use in December, Schnur explains that these types of antibodies are normally given to someone who just had COVID to help their immune system recover. For her, it offers that extra layer of safety and peace of mind.

“I feel like I can maybe see some family members I haven’t even gotten to see yet, and we’re so careful we haven’t done holidays with family in two years,” she said. “This is a light at the end of the tunnel because it’s here [COVID-19] is going to stay, people are getting it like crazy now, and we just felt like we had to stay in a cave and really lose that human connection. This is giving us a chance to get out and hopefully be a normal person again.”

It’s her new reborn life, one she gets to keep on living.

“I have this liver from my donor hero that I want to protect,” Schnur said. “I’m not just protecting myself now, I have my donor hero that I want to look out for. I want to make sure I do everything possible to keep myself healthy, keep my liver healthy so I can live life for the both of us.”

Schnur is sharing her story because she wants to raise awareness for this treatment, in case other immunocompromised people have a chance to get it too.

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