British Player Competes at Wimbledon After Blood Disease Diagnosis

Two months after he was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening blood disease, British hopeful Jamie Baker is stepping onto the Wimbledon Court Tuesday, London’s Daily Telegraph reported.

Baker, 21, from Glasglow, England, was given a wildcard into the competition — even after he was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). Doctors told him he might not play competitive tennis again.

ITP affects the immune system and can lead to internal hemorrhaging.

"I'm fortunate to be alive and it's no exaggeration to say that," Baker told the Telegraph. "Without knowing it, for about eight days I was on the verge of suffering something as bad as it could have got."

Baker will play a first-round match against Italy’s Stefano Galvani Tuesday afternoon.

This is not Baker’s first time at Wimbledon. He reached the quarter finals of junior Wimbledon in 2004, and played and lost in the first round the last two years.

Baker was playing tennis in the U.S. when he started feeling ill. He developed a large bruise after being hit on the arm with a ball, and his gums started to bleed and he broke out in a rash. He wound up spending three days in an intensive care unit in Florida.

Baker said he is currently being treated with steroids.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Baker’s prognosis should be good, as long as he takes care of himself and treats his symptoms when necessary.

"Knowing what I know now, just the ability to be on court involved in a tennis match, to have the ups and downs with all the adrenaline, is a complete and utter privilege," Baker added.

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