Clark was born with mild Hemophilia. And then, at his 1 year birthday, was also diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia. Both blood disorders affect clotting and bruising, and both could be fatal. But how do they differ and how do they relate? What does it mean to have both?
Hemophilia is genetic
Hemophilia was passed down to Clark genetically, and it is related to a missing “factor” called Factor VIII (pronounced “Factor 8”) or Factor IX (pronounced “Factor 9”). When missing, the blood in a person isn’t able to congeal, or scab. In severe Hemophiliacs, a person could get a small cut, or bump into a chair, and literally bleed to death. In Clark’s case, he is mild. Which means unless he gets into a car accident, or is having surgery, he really doesn’t have to worry too much.
Mild hemophilia, on its own, isn’t a life or death concern. You can plan around it, and generally have a very full (albeit cautious) life with this condition.
Aplastic Anemia is deadly
Individuals can get Aplastic Anemia through several means. There are dangerous chemicals that can cause it (Benzene) and there are genetic conditions that can cause it (DKC), or it can happen without any clear cause (idiopathic).
Aplastic Anemia is where the body stops producing new blood cells. It is characterized by 3 blood cell counts being low:
- white blood cells
- red blood cells
As these blood counts drop, an individual is prone to spontaneous bleeding (low platelets), getting a bacterial infection and not recovering (low white blood cells), and to becoming anemic (low red blood cells).
Aplastic Anemia will kill you. It does it from the inside out, killing your body’s ability to fight back or repair itself. It is a very dangerous and deadly disease, and can only be treated by a couple methods. Both of those methods have to do with repairing the bone marrow in the body.
Where they intersect
So in the case where a person with hemophilia has Aplastic Anemia, you have an individual which has both low Factor VIII and low platelets. These two items work together to create a scab. Platelets form a “framework” and Factor VIII creates “fibers” that bind the framework. Not having one or the other can be a big issue, not having either can be a HUGE issue. Where Clark is only a mild hemophiliac today, we have to treat him as though he was a severe hemophiliac when he has low platelets.
In both cases, there are transfusions available to shore up numbers of either Factor VIII or Platelets. Factor VIII only lasts a couple hours, so it is only given when an injury has occurred, or a surgery will occur. Platelets last a little longer, often a couple days to a week depending on their age and quality. These are often given once a week depending on when a patient’s platelet numbers have declined.