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Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
London Bishop

Scrapes and bruises are a common part of childhood, but when then 5-year-old London Bishop got a black eye that wouldn’t heal, her mother, April, knew something was wrong.

“She barely got hit on the eye and it got very black,” April said. “We then started noticing she was getting many bruises on her legs very easily. That wasn’t normal.”

After a couple of weeks, the black eye was still no better. April also noticed red bumps appearing on London’s skin. “I panicked because your first thought with those symptoms is leukemia,” April said. “As soon as the pediatrician’s office was open, I knew I had to call.”

The pediatrician wanted to see London as quickly as possible, and the office visit led to blood work that showed London’s platelet levels were too low. Normal levels are between 150,000 and 500,000. London only had 5,000.

London was referred immediately to the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama, where doctors confirmed she had idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) – a rare blood disorder that causes easy or excessive bruising and bleeding. ITP also causes the immune system to mistakenly attack its own platelets.

“Children’s admitted her quickly and got her into a room, where they were able to start the needed IV drip of immunoglobulin while she was asleep,” April said. “It was so late and she had fallen asleep, so they numbed her hand and inserted the IV without ever disturbing her.”

The next morning April and her husband, Brian, learned the IV drip raised London’s platelet levels, officially ruling out leukemia. London was later discharged home with a heavy dose of steroids and mandatory weekly blood checks.

“Children’s worked with us because we live out in Leeds, so it’s not easy to drive downtown once a week,” April said. “They worked it out so that we could do the weekly blood checks at our local pediatrician’s office. They made it so easy for us.”

The weekly blood tests yielded great results. London no longer needs steroids and now goes in for blood checks every three months.

“Her counts definitely go up and down, and the ITP may never go away, but we’ve learned that this is something that can be treated if she has to live with it the rest of her life,” April said. “We also know the signs to look for.”
Meanwhile, London is back to enjoying one of her favorite pastimes. London has competed in pageants since she was 9 months old and recently was crowned 2018 Petite Miss Motorsports – her first-ever crown.

“She was so excited to win, and we are especially excited because with this title she gets to establish a platform,” April said.

London’s platform was an easy choice: ITP. It’s something London and her family are now using to not only raise awareness about the disease, but also raise money for Children’s of Alabama.

“For us, it’s our way of making lemonade out of lemons,” April said. “We were so scared when she was diagnosed, so we want to help other families learn about it and raise money for Children’s in the process. They helped us so much and we want to do all we can to help them.”
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