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Mary and Sam Macdonald

Nobody believed that I had hemophilia!
Mary and Sam Macdonald

I give to NHF regularly and have it in my will because of how its work relieves the suffering of thousands. Before Factor VIII became available, hemophilia was a severely painful, crippling condition. In my opinion, no one should have to suffer such pain. You lived with the fear of bleeding every day.

You see, when I was born in 1926, hemophilia was considered a condition occurring in the royal families of Europe. Only males were born with the condition, therefore (so the wisdom went) I couldn't possibly have hemophilia! But when I look back, it's clear that something was wrong.

The first major episode that I remember was when I was 10 years old. Our local dentist extracted a decayed molar. The bleeding didn't stop for over week. After that, nothing symptomatic occurred until I started my periods. They were very difficult to live with - lasting at least seven days.

After graduating high school, I entered the three-year nursing program at a local hospital. In those days, it wasn't necessary to sign permission for surgery. Our local surgeon decided I needed tonsillectomy - and thus it was performed. I hemorrhaged profusely for a week. Then I was readmitted for more surgery. My hemoglobin was unreadable and I was so weak that it was difficult to walk without assistance. Nevertheless, my bleeding was finally controlled, and I entered the nursing program, and graduated in 1946.

In 1951 my husband and I were blessed with a baby girl. After delivery I bled terribly for several weeks. Our son was born two years later. I bled tremendously again, but to make matters worse, so did my son! Finally, my pediatrician referred us to University of Maryland Hospital. Dr. Sacks diagnosed my son with severe hemophilia. I always had so much guilt. I blamed myself for causing so much pain to a child I loved more than life.

Our life changed completely when Factor VIII became available. Research money made places like the Georgetown University Hemophilia Treatment Center in Washington, DC available to us. It's a blessing. Dr. Craig Kessler, its director, and Nurse Carolyn Francis, its program coordinator, give wonderful care and much-needed service to the hemophilia community. Arrangements were made for me to have genetic testing at the clinic. I learned that I too have hemophilia (Factor VIII). A few years later, I needed my gall bladder removed. Carolyn made the arrangements. I received Factor VIII - no bleeding, no problems.

I'm now 86 years old, my son is 60. We made it! I consider this a miracle. We are so thankful. I know that my gifts now and my bequest later will stop others from suffering, too.