2023 V-RED Honorable Mention

Joseph C. Guzzo, MD

Allentown, Pennsylvania

In the fall of 2020, Thomas Hyclak was very sick for two months with symptoms including extreme fatigue, muscle weakness and joint pain, lengthy bouts of severe coughing, fever and night sweats. While these symptoms were pretty severe, Thomas felt they matched what he had read online for someone recovering from pneumonia, which he had been treated for in August.

After a few weeks, Thomas’s wife, Jean, felt he wasn’t improving and took him to the ER at Lehigh Valley Health Network Muhlenberg Hospital on September 25, but he was discharged the next day. While at the hospital, he met with doctors from rheumatology and pulmonology. A CT scan revealed pulmonary fibrosis (a condition in which the lungs become scarred over time). He also had elevated rheumatoid factor. Rheumatoid factors are proteins produced by your immune system that can attack healthy tissue in your body. Thomas was prescribed 20 mg of prednisone to address his symptoms while he was following up with the specialists.

Because of the blood in his urine, which indicated kidney damage, Thomas was then referred to Dr. Joseph Guzzo. The doctor immediately ordered a kidney biopsy and sent the results to a colleague at Columbia University. The consensus was that Thomas had vasculitis, and Dr. Guzzo expedited treatment with Rituxan® in addition to the prednisone. “My kidneys have healed completely and while I have significant fibrosis, I am able to function well,” Thomas said. “The diagnosis of microscopic polyangiitis was tricky, and I credit Dr. Guzzo for his willingness to get on the phone and call people to get me tested and treated quickly. It made all the difference in where I am now with vasculitis in remission.” Seventy-six-year-old Thomas and his wife live in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They have a daughter and a son.