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Herricks High School senior nearly misses prom due to blood disorder

Herricks High School senior Amanda Breit enjoys her

Herricks High School senior Amanda Breit enjoys her prom, which she nearly had to miss due to a health problem, on Monday, June 22, 2015, at Chateau La Mer in Lindenhurst. Photo Credit: Tara Conry

Amanda Breit said she was in pain Monday night, but there was no way she was missing her senior prom.

Exactly one year ago from the date of the Herricks High School prom, Breit, 18, said she was diagnosed with a blood disorder called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP.

"Every single day, I would wake up and there would be bruises all over my body," she said.

The mysterious bruising prompted her to see a doctor, who ordered a blood test. And when the results came back, Breit said she was told her platelets were "dangerously low."

A healthy person typically has a platelet count of 150,000 to 400,000 per microliter, according to the National Institutes of Health. Breit said she only had 8,000 at the time, putting her at risk for spontaneous bleeding, so she was hospitalized.

"My parents and I were extremely worried," she added.

During the past year, Breit said her doctors prescribed her steroids and blood derivatives, and even gave her low-grade chemotherapy. The treatments would bring her platelet levels back up, but only temporarily, she said.

Eventually, she said her doctors decided to remove her spleen.

"They thought my spleen was eating my platelets like Pac-Man," she said.

On June 1, her mother's birthday, Breit said she underwent the surgery to have her spleen removed, and doctors made a surprising discovery: she had two spleens, which is uncommon.

Doctors removed them both, but Breit said her recovery from the surgery did not go well.

She needed to have a blood transfusion and stay in the hospital for another six days, and even after she was discharged, it would be another nearly two weeks before she felt better, she said.

"I was upset because I missed my last week of school," she said. "I wanted to be there; I just love being there."

Breit said she not only missed her friends, but also the special education students that she works with through the school's peer leadership program.

While in the hospital, Breit said she didn't remember much, because she would slip in and out of consciousness, but her mother told her she would often ask to see "her kids," referring to the special education students.

"They inspire me so much," she said, adding that after graduation, she'll be studying special education when she attends Penn State University. 

But as prom approached, Breit said she didn't want to miss the last chance to be together with her classmates.

"I just had the mentality of, 'Yes, this is bad, I'm in pain, but so many people have it worse than I do,'" she said.

Breit admitted that there were times over the past year, when she thought to herself, "Why is this happening to me?"

But recently she's realized that the support she had -- from her family, friends, doctors, and teachers -- made the ordeal much more bearable.

"I'd rather have it happen to me than someone who wasn't able to have everything I did," she added. 

And as she mingled with friends on the pier of the Chateau La Mer in Lindenhurst Monday night, wearing a flowing strapless blue gown, she said it was easy to forget about her discomfort. 

"It's hard to have a bad night when you're with these people," she said. "I'm very lucky."


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