Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Bleeding Disease

Most of us don't worry too much about small injuries like bump pad paper cuts.

Our bodies have a self-repair system that controls bleeding. Proteins in blood called factors to do this job. But haemophiliacs have to few or even no factor at all.

Haemophiliacs have to apply special lotions to seal cuts in order to stop bleeding. Larger cuts can cause severe blood loss, which can only stopped with a transfusion.

Even a small bump can be a big problem to them. A bump usually causes blood vessels under the skin to break and results in a bruise. For haemophiliacs, a little bump can cause a haemorrphage.

Haemophilia is a sex-linked inherited condition, which affects mostly males, while females usually transmit it.

A haemophilic man and a normal woman give birth to normal sons, and daughters who are carriers.

But when a normal man and a carrier woman have children, half of their sons will be normal while half of them affected. Also, half of their daughters will be carriers, and the other half normal.

Queen Victoria of Britain was a carrier. Her husband Albert was not. Since nine of their children had it, the condition was spread to many European royal houses.

It is thus nicknamed The Royal Disease.

In the 19th century, most victims died when they were babies as doctors were unable to cure them.

Today, we understand the human body better. Thus, life expectancy for haemophiliacs has increased from 11 years in the 1960s to 50-60 years in the 1980s.

Hopefully, we'll find a cure soon.

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