Teacher’s lucky blood test

Teacher Steven Sellens with Red Cliffs East Primary students Taurie Dedman-Begg, 9, Hayley Ryan, 9, Kulaia Burton, 11, and Lucy Lines, 11, pumped up for the walkathon. Picture: Louise Donges

Teacher Steven Sellens with Red Cliffs East Primary students Taurie Dedman-Begg, 9, Hayley Ryan, 9, Kulaia Burton, 11, and Lucy Lines, 11, pumped up for the walkathon. Picture: Louise Donges

STEVEN Sellens says he can count himself lucky to see in this year’s Millewa League grand final after a rare blood disorder almost claimed his life exactly 12 months ago.

The Red Cliffs East Primary School teacher was last year diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), an autoimmune condition where a person’s blood fails to clot due to antibodies destroying blood platelets.

“A year ago I broke my arm at footy and had to have surgery,” Mr Sellens said. 

“A week later I had bleeding on my gums and came out in red dots like chickenpox.”

“I went in to hospital and had blood tests and the doctors initially thought it was leukaemia, which was a bit of a scare, and then they diagnosed it as ITP.”

When Mr Sellens was admitted to hospital he had just four platelets where the average count is ­between 150,000 and 350,000.

The Year 5/6 teacher said if he hadn’t have been injured and instead taken the footy field for last year’s grand final as planned, the outcome would have been very different.

“If I hadn’t broken my arm I would have played and lucky I didn’t because I wouldn’t have been alive on the footy field, so it was very scary.”

Mr Sellens said while not much is known about ITP or how to fix it, his levels are now about 240,000 platelets – within a normal range – and he’s able to manage this with regular blood tests and by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“I have to watch what I eat and make sure I have plenty of vitamin K in my diet to make sure everything heals.”

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