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Levine Cancer Institute helping the nation come up with protocols for treating cancer patients amid virus

"We can't afford to take risks. That’s a really important responsibility."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Karrie Murphy has spent the last 9 months social distancing. 

"I was diagnosed August 8th, I started chemo 2 hours later," Murphy said. 

The 32-year-old vet tech underwent a bone marrow transplant to save her life but it left her with a very compromised immune system.

 Dr. Derek Raghavan is the head of Levine Cancer Institute and said, "the biggest problem for patients with cancer is the fact that they’re immunity is beaten up."

Raghavan and his team spent weeks coming up with careful new protocols to keep their patients safe amid the coronavirus crisis.

"We've done one thing I think we're sort of a leader in the U.S.," Raghavan said. "We went to a two-team rotation and we have people on 14 days off, 14 days on. That way we're sure the people coming back on the line are clean."

They also set up calls with teams of doctors around the world, from Wuhan to Italy France and Spain to see what they’d learned in fighting the virus.

"We were able to get info from them about the latest and greatest mistakes they made, things they thought worked," Raghavan said. 

Levine is also doing virtual visits, which have doubled in the last few weeks and they’re purposely stretching out when appointments are scheduled so no one shares the waiting room with anyone else.

"We have to do this right," Raghavan said. "We can't afford to take risks. That’s a really important responsibility."

Realizing there were no protocols already in place, they just published their findings for doctors across the US to follow.

Murphy said she is grateful for all that the team at Levine is doing.

"Being that I went through a bone marrow transplant, I have the immune system of a newborn child so my immune system has never seen a common cold, never seen the flu, so something like coronavirus would be detrimental for me," Raghavan said. 

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