September is National ITP Awareness Month and many local businesses are lending a hand to help raise awareness of this rare bleeding disorder. ITP (Immune Thrombocytopenia) is a condition in which the blood has a lower number of platelets than normal. Platelets are cells that help the blood clot. ITP is called an autoimmune disease since it is the result of the body's immune system attacking platelets as if they are foreign cells. A person with ITP is at a higher risk of bleeding. ITP is often accompanied by fatigue and sometimes depression and has a profound impact on a person’s quality of life.
The communities support to help raise awareness and needed funds for this rare bleeding disorder research has been amazing. Select Vintage Wine, Gallery of Bliss, Fitabulous Booty Camp, Gerald A. York Opticians and Stop & Shop of Basking Ridge, The Toy Store of Bernardsville, Bellezza Salon & Spa and 16 Handles of Warren, Massage Envy and The European Wax Center of both Warren and East Brunswick have offered to display ITP information and fundraising collection cans. Walgreens of Northern and Central Jersey and the Carol Simon Cancer Center of Morristown will have ITP Awareness tables throughout the month of September. The Red Cross has invited ITP patients to join them at a Blood drive on September 23rd in New York City during the San Gennaro Festival.
ITP affects almost 10 times as many people as hemophilia, yet most people know nothing about it. This lack of public awareness leaves many ITP patients feeling isolated and alone, and is the main reason why there is so little support for research on ITP and the lack of advancement in treatment. ITP is a growing but little understood health problem that most people (including some medical professionals) have never heard of. It affects individuals of all ages, sexes, and ethnic origins.
Imagine having a child who could not play on the playground with other kids, ride a bike, or participate in normal childhood activities for fear of bumping or cutting themselves or hitting their head, which could lead to life-threatening bleeding. And as that parent imagine trying to protect your child as you’re being accused of abuse because your child is covered with bruises. As an adult, imagine waking up in the morning with a mouth full of blood blisters, heading off to work with a nosebleed that won’t stop for hours, or going to bed at night with a headache and fearing you’re having a brain hemorrhage and won’t wake up in the morning. This is life for someone suffering with the bleeding disorder ITP.
I facilitate a local ITP Support Group for ITP patients and their family members. The meetings are free of charge and sponsored by a nonprofit organization called PDSA (Platelet Disorder Support Association). For more information about ITP, the ITP Support Group or ITP Awareness Month, kindly give me a call on 908-764-1819 or email me at NJPDSA@gmail.com. You can also visit the PDSA Web site at: Platelet Disorder Support Association - for People with ITP, www.pdsa.org. PDSA is the largest ITP patient support organization in the United States. PDSA is currently coordinating and promoting ITP Awareness Month initiatives throughout the country with the support of its members.