Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

A Team Player. A Brave Hero.

by St. Vincents

March 01, 2014

Parker Dean was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an autoimmune disease, at the age of 9. His response? To help other pediatric patients charge bravely ahead in the fight of their lives.

Always active and heading to the next sporting event, there is a never a dull moment in the Dean household. Bumps and bruises are expected on a nine-year-old boy that frequently roughhouses with his younger brother. But when a large, misfit bruise would not fade combined with joint pains and fatigue, worry began to settle with Parker Dean and his family. Mindy, his mother and an emergency department nurse, had begun to notice a petechial rash. Knowing the seriousness of this rash, Parker was immediately taken to the Emergency Department at St.Joseph Hospital in Kokomo. The Deans were quickly referred to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent in Indianapolis.

Upon direct admittance, the Deans met hematologist, Dr. Charles Nakar, who performed a physical the following morning. Tests confirmed Dr. Nakar’s suspicion of an autoimmune disease – Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. More commonly known as ITP, this disease causes a very low platelet count in the bone marrow and blood, allowing for easy bleeding and bruising.

“At that time, I knew it was serious,” says Mindy. “It’s a platelet disorder. A virus was in his body, and it was attacking his platelets.” And Parker had a chronic form. Normally, small children are affected and heal within weeks, but Parker was older, meaning it would take longer.

Treatment for Parker included monitoring blood counts weekly and receiving platelet infusions. After many combinations of intravenous and oral medicine for two years, Parker’s condition showed little improvement, and it was suggested to explore more invasive alternatives.

After weighing his options, Parker underwent surgery to remove his spleen in December 2012. “It was exciting when we got to come see Peyton Manning’s theme room, because it took his mind off of it,” says Mindy.

Parker made a speedy recovery under the watchful eye of nurses and physicians, only having to stay a few days in the hospital. Parker’s current regimen includes taking a daily antibiotic and having check-ups every six months.

To Parker and his brother, Mitchell, philanthropy is second nature. At Parker’s ninth birthday party, his family requested that friends bring toys to be donated to Child Life Services instead of birthday gifts. Furthermore, the boys recruited their school to join Team Peyton and collect wish list items for the hospital.

For this true hero, ITP was but a small obstacle on his way to a very bright future.

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