My Run-In with HSP

March 20, 2011
What first sparked my interest in immunology was a personal experience that began on November 1, 2008. I woke up that morning experiencing piercing abdominal pain, vomiting, swollen hands and feet, and an itchy red rash all over my body. My panicked parents rushed me to the hospital, where a dermatologist performed a skin biopsy. I was soon diagnosed with Henoch Schonlein Purpura, a disease that affects one in 7000 people. Since HSP normally affects only young children, I, as a thirteen year old, developed a very severe form of the illness. A few days later, my doctor sent me to an allergy specialist, who explained at length about HSP and how it affects the body. She told me that HSP was an autoimmune disease which had caused my immune system to work against my body. Despite my fatigue that day, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the science behind what my body was going through. What I had been learning in science class was now tangible, not merely something from a textbook or classroom lecture.
When my symptoms did not seem to lessen, my pediatrician referred me to the Lucile-Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University. Interacting with the doctors and the state-of-the-art lab equipment in their Immunology department made me realize what a vast and fascinating subject immunology can be. Although HSP finally bade me goodbye (after forcing me to miss several weeks of school and lose fourteen pounds), my interest in biomedical science deepened immensely. The mystery of the human body continues to arouse my curiosity, and compels me to explore the subject in depth. Biomedical scientists are continually researching and decoding the puzzle of the human body, and, as a future scientist, I want to be part of that revolution.

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