In 1951, two Haematology fellows, Dr William Harrington and Dr James Hollingsworth, agreed upon an experiment. They would ask the next patient with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP) to donate 500ml of blood. Then, whoever was a blood-type match would get the transfusion and see if they got the disease. The results were immediate and dramatic.
Surprisingly, the fact that platelets are the foundation of coagulation and derived from megakaryocytes have only been known for just over a century. Our understanding during this time has been exponential but the key to ITP remains in its name: idiopathic. Yes, we actually don’t know the cause of this disease. Fortunately, there is a lot about ITP that we do know.
Our special guest is Dr Nicholas Myles who is a General Haematologist and Senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide.