Sean Putt is eight-years-old and a third grader at St. Peter's. The Mansfield boy loves soccer and football. He roots for the Green Bay Packers and Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish. Putt and his brother love to play FIFA Sports on their Xbox. And he is suffering from a rare blood disorder.
Sean Putt might seem a typical little boy, with his big smile and dimples. But although it’s nearly impossible to see Sean without a big smile on his face, his life over the past two years has been anything but normal. He suffers from a rare form of ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura); a disease where his body doesn’t produce enough platelets.
This past September, we shared a story of Putt’s plight and his fight against this disease. After countless Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) transfusions, which are the most typical treatment of ITP, the doctors deemed that Putt needed a different treatment plan. This was followed by steroid therapies combined with the transfusions to try to “jump start” his platelets.
That worked for a short time but his numbers once again dropped. He underwent chemotherapy, but it had no effect on his platelet count.
A healthy child’s platelet count should be in the 250-400 thousand range. Sean’s barely reached 10 thousand and there were times he dipped to below 1 thousand. “He couldn’t get a bruise without having to take him to the ER,” explained his mother, Trisha Putt.
At the suggestion of his doctor, Putt underwent an experimental drug treatment where he received weekly shots. There was no way to know until the 24 weeks were over if he was even receiving the drug and not a placebo in its place. His numbers didn’t change and, on Aug. 20, they found out Putt was indeed getting the placebo and started receiving the actual drug. This gave his parents hope.
“He needed to get above 50 thousand platelets for it to be considered effective,” said Trisha Putt. “For the first 11 weeks, he was under, and that’s when he was maxed out on the dosage.” After that, his numbers went up and down.
The highest they’ve risen over the 24-week period was 72 thousand on Nov. 6. However, on Nov. 20, they plummeted down to 16 thousand and on Dec. 5 down to 9 thousand. Then he spiked again on Dec. 18 to 30 thousand. “Anything below 10 thousand has a clotting factor of zero,” said his Mom. “This is when brain bleeds and hemorrhages can happen.”
His platelets continue to yo-yo, with Jan. 15 rising to 58 thousand but the very next week toppling to 6 thousand.
“We thought maybe his count was dropping during the week between treatments so 48-hours after the last treatment I took him back for a count, but he was still at 6 thousand. It’s just not working,” said Trisha Putt, feeling discouraged.
When Sean Putt heard his numbers, he started to sob.
“It’s so hard on Elliott and me when Sean breaks down, because he hardly ever does,” said Trisha. To cheer him up, she told him that he had over 300 people praying for him.
He wanted to know how she knew that so she showed him the Facebook page she started for him back on Nov. 24 of 2012. At that time, he had 313 LIKES. Since then, he is up over 850 and pushing for a thousand.
“It brought a smile to his face to see so many people who cared,” said his mother with emotion in her own voice.
The next step in Putt’s treatment goes into effect over Spring Break. The family planned to go away for a vacation between one treatment and the next, allowing the Putt family five days together, but now their plans have beenput on hold for another bone marrow aspiration.
Back in October of 2012, Sean Putt had his first bone marrow aspiration to rule out Leukemia. “They want to do it again to see if things have changed; to see if all the medications he was on masked the true cause.”
His parents are scared to death, but they also want answers. “No one knows why he’s not responding to treatments,” stated Trisha Putt.
The bone marrow aspiration will also help them determine whether or not he should have a splenectomy this summer, after school gets out, as he will most likely spend considerable time in the hospital following the surgery.
Through all of this, Sean utt still wants to play soccer. His mother said the one game he got to play was a dream come true for himt. “Since his platelets were high enough that week he got to play, and at that game he scored two goals: one to tie the game and the other to win it.”
Outside of that game, Putt hasn’t been able to play, only sit on the sidelines and root for his team, which he does with exuberance. He’s also learning to play guitar after getting one for Christmas. His biggest dream was to go to a Fighting Irish game which became a reality this past November.
The Putt’s continue to struggle with finances and medical bills. The therapy drug and treatments and doctor visits related to it have all been covered, but much of Sean’s previous treatments, especially the chemotherapy, were not covered.
“I’ll be paying on his medical bills until long after he’s started college. I stopped looking at the total months ago and just focus on paying my monthly payment,” said Trisha Putt. “By the grace of God we’ve been able to keep our house, drive to Columbus each week, and pay our bills. We have so much to be thankful for. Our faith holds us.”
Trisha Putt has put over 6,500 miles on her car for the weekly Columbus visits alone. She’s also had to cut back on her working hours, which luckily she’s been able to do since she owns her own business, but it has also meant less money coming in.
When asked how people can help, her first words are, “Pray for us.” She feels that prayer and faith is what’s gotten them through so far.
There is still a donation page set up for Sean on his Facebook page where people can donate to help with Sean’s medical expenses: https://www.facebook.com/helpseanputt
The one thing he has asked for recently is an iPad to keep him busy through all of his trips and waiting at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “He’s been asking for one to give him something to do on all these trips,” said his mother.
If anyone would like to donate toward getting Sean Putt an iPad, post a message on his Facebook page.