• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Tackling a rare autoimmune disease

June 24, 2018

When Kelli Anderson first decided to get her odd symptoms evaluated, she thought she had something resembling the flu. She never dreamed doctors at Mayo Clinic would diagnose her with an uncommon disorder that was attacking her kidneys.

Shortly before she turned 24, Kelli Anderson began experiencing strange physical symptoms she couldn't explain. "I just wasn't feeling well," she says. "It felt like I had the flu, but I never felt like I was actually going to vomit. I didn't have an appetite, and there were times when it felt like I wanted to keel over at work."

But Kelli powered through, continuing to go to work each day. "I did whatever I had to do," she says. When her symptoms intensified, though, Kelli knew it was time to get help. "As soon as I had a couple days off, I decided it was time to go to the doctor because I'd also developed pain on the right side of my body where my kidneys are," she says.

Kelli's appointment at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus began with testing to determine whether the persistent pain was being caused by something like a urinary tract infection or kidney infection. "They didn't find either, so they did some blood work and a CT scan to see if I had a kidney stone," Kelli says.

Early the next morning, Kelli received a phone call. "I was told I needed to go to the Emergency Department at Saint Marys Hospital right away, and that I was likely going to be admitted."

Kelli got to the hospital as quickly as she could. After she arrived, Andrew Rule, M.D., a Mayo Clinic nephrologist talked with Kelli about why she was there. "He diagnosed me with anti-GBM, which is a super-rare disease that's also known as Goodpasture's syndrome," Kelli says. "It's an autoimmune disease where the antibodies in my immune system were attacking my kidneys, and my kidneys were shutting down." Read the rest of Kelly's story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.