Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura Took the Life of a Teen, but Her Organs Saved the Lives of Others

Abbey Luffman was a 16-year-old from Owego, New York excited about getting her learner’s permit. She was also very generous; she didn’t even hesitate to check the box for organ donor when she got her license. The she was suddenly diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, which quickly took her life. Abbey’s death brought grief to the community, but it also saved the lives of others. Her organs went to science and those who needed them for a long time. It shows that there is hope even in the saddest situations.

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) occurs when the immune system destroys the platelets, leading to excessive bleeding and bruising. The incidence is one to five out of every 10,000 people.

At times, this condition does not show symptoms. If they are present, they include easy and excessive bleeding and bruising, superficial bleeding that appears as a rash, bleeding from the gums and nose, blood in the urine and stool, and a very heavy menstrual flow.

ITP occurs when antibodies are made by the immune system to destroy platelets. It is not a familial disease, and researchers are unsure as to what exactly causes it. They have realized that it often occurs after viral infections, using certain drugs, during pregnancy, or with other immune system disorders.

A diagnosis typically comes after a finding of characteristic symptoms and ruling out other conditions. A physical exam followed by laboratory test will confirm a diagnosis. Blood tests and blood smear tests will be conducted, and doctors may suggest genetic testing as well. Less common tests include bone marrow aspirations and biopsies.

If this disease occurs in children, it can go away without treatment. Treatment consists of steroid medication, typically prednisone. Other medications that may be prescribed are danazol, infusions of gamma globulin, immunosuppressants, anti-RhD drugs, and medications that stimulate bone marrow to make more platelets. In severe cases, surgery to remove the spleen will be performed.

Abbey’s Story

Abbey Luffman was a 16-year-old from Owego, New York. She had just gotten her learner’s permit, was working at MJ’s Bar and Restaurant, and had signed up to be an organ donor. As a junior in high school she had two jobs, played two sports, and sang in her school chorus. She had a close group of friends and family as well. Abbey passed away on January 12, shortly after being diagnosed with ITP.

Abbey’s passing came as a shock; she only started showing symptoms on January 1. Shortly after, she was taken to Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. Her parents believed that it would be a short stay, as treatment for ITP is typically very effective. In Abbey’s case, all the therapies tried by doctors did not work.

Her kidneys and pancreas were able to save two lives, and her liver went to scientific research. Two men received the organs, both from New York. They are in good condition, which brings a sense of peace to Abbey’s friends and family.

The love from the community was clear after her passing. Nearly 2,000 people attended her memorial, and many more gave support in other ways. A scholarship will be created in her memory, and her friends will begin a tradition on her birthday. They will walk from her house to one of her favorite spots, where they will spend their day remembering her.

Abbey was a symbol of love, friendship, and hard work in her community. Even after her death she has continued to embody these characteristics, and she has even saved the lives of others through the donation of her organs. Hopefully others will continue to live by the values that she stood for.

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