Transplant Team Ireland

Keep up-to-date with me on This Limbo - a blog about dialysis & other curiosities

Saturday, June 26, 2010

EPO magic

In the past few days (in addition, it has to be said to three bouts of training), I read a book on the history of the Tour de France.

It was for work purposes and while it was filled with amusing anedcotes and some unbelievable tales of spectacular cheating, I zoned in on the chapter that dealt with the coming of age of EPO.

Those of you who are on, or have been on dialysis know the saving graces of synthetic Erythropoietin with its addictive red-blood-cell boosting charms. One dose to the leg every few weeks and for a few glorious days, everything feels a little bit easier.

In sporting terms however, according to this book, the brilliance of EPO has the ability to "turn a donkey into a racehorse".

When my CKD reached Stage 5, I was granted some help in the form of NeoRecormon. Loved it. However, it loved me a little too much and ended up pushing my haemoglobin to levels which the doctors claimed could be damaging to my heart.

Now I'm on Arenesp and while in theory it is still a form of EPO, I no longer feel the same benefit. The buzz of NeoRecormon has been replaced by a half-baked whimper from 30mgs of this new stuff every three weeks.

I think the forthcoming Games is grounds for me to once again petition my doctors to put me back on the former. The whole donkey into racehorse argument is reason enough to revisit this old ground and the fear of coming last in every possible race is swaying me towards taking my chances with a dodgy ticker.

I know there are some who would say that I could have read a book on one of the most epic sporting challenges in the world and come away with a heightened sense of the potential of the human being rather than a whetted appetite for performance enhacing drugs...hmmmm....nah.


  1. Hi Regina. Interesting comments about EPO. I'm a liver transplant recipient and a keen (and ageing and tubby) cyclist so I'm looking forward to the games in Dublin and the start of the Tour de France tomorrow. It always strikes me as slightly odd that we, transplant and dialysis patients, are the only althletes in the world that would get disqualied if we tested negative for drugs.....!! :-) Rich Smith

  2. Rich - It's a weird one alright! All of us doped to the eyeballs and not a random drug tester in sight. Good luck with the Games and the preparations!