In 2009, Grace Jeffers of Chicago was wheelchair-bound, having severe back pain and losing control of the left side of her body. She had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but when a blood test sent to Mayo Clinic in December showed that Jeffers actually suffered from neuromyelitis optica (NMO), her physician referred her to Mayo Clinic.
Prior to her appointment, as she watched the Super Bowl with her children and grandchildren, Jeffers realized she was beginning to lose her eyesight. Unable to read the score on the television screen, Jeffers had to ask her grandchildren to keep her updated. Her vision continued to deteriorate until she was essentially blind.
At Mayo Clinic, neurologist Brian Weinshenker, M.D. first prescribed her steroids, but when that didn’t have any effect, they turned to a plasma exchange. A plasma exchange is a procedure that involves removing some blood and mechanically separating the blood cells from the fluid (plasma), mixing it with replacement solution and returning it to the body. After her fourth plasma exchange treatment, Jeffers vision had returned, and she recalls it being “such a joy” to see the doctor who was helping her.
Today, Jeffers is out of the wheelchair. With her eyesight back, she is able to continue her passion for drawing and painting, as well as spending time with her children and grandchildren in her Chicago home.
“There is no other place like this,” says Jeffers. “When I come to Mayo, it’s like a different world. It was just amazing, the care … was just unparalleled.”
View the video below to hear Ms. Jeffers share her Mayo Clinic story.
This post was submitted by Natalie Zheng, a summer intern in the Mayo Clinic Department of Public Affairs in Rochester.