Meet Troy's boys
Queensland youngsters Wyatt and Owen share spring birthdays, a love of toy cars and a boisterous enthusiasm for all things automotive. They also share a rare genetic bleeding disorder: haemophilia A.
Their dad is Nursing Assistant Troy at our Toowoomba Donor Centre and he plays an important role in collecting the plasma that helps his boys live normal and healthy lives.
“We treat them as normal children and try not to hover over every little thing. We want to let our kids be kids and not have much restriction on their lives," Troy said.
People with haemophilia have blood that doesn't clot properly. This happens because there's not enough of a protein in the blood that controls bleeding, known as clotting factor. Depending on which particular clotting factor is at low levels, the disorder is known as haemophilia A or haemophilia B.
Troy and his partner Tiffany knew there was a possibility that any children they might have together could inherit the bleeding disorder.
Haemophilia is caused by a mutation in the genes, and this change can be passed to future generations. In Australia there are almost 3,000 people diagnosed with haemophilia, mostly male. Severe haemophilia in women is rare, but they can carry the altered gene.
With haemophilia present in Tiffany's family, testing at 12 weeks into her pregnancy confirmed that their new baby boy would have the condition.
Untreated, people with haemophilia A can suffer life-threatening and disabling internal bleeding and joint damage. Although not curable, haemophilia is manageable with appropriate treatment and care, and people can live normal and healthy lives.
Five-year-old Wyatt started treatments to prevent bleeds (prophylaxis) at 15 months. This involved injecting the missing clotting factor up to six times a week. As Wyatt got older a temporary device called a port was inserted under his skin to make this an easier process. The procedure can be done at home, and it helps that mum Tiffany is also a registered nurse.
Plasma is the powerful part of blood that can be used in 18 life-giving ways, and one of those ways is treating haemophilia. The clotting factor product which has made such a difference to Wyatt's early life is derived from plasma. The plasma we collect from our generous donors is sent to CSL where it goes through several processes to separate it into components, including clotting factors which are then made into life-changing clotting factor concentrates.
When Troy is working in our Toowoomba Blood Donor Centre, he has a powerful story to share with donors.
“I always thank them for their time", Troy says.
“I tell them: 'thank you not only for coming in to do something to help someone else, but as a parent of a child who receives medication based on what you're doing right now, thank you!'"
Many Toowoomba donors have been inspired to join the Troy's Boys Lifeblood Team and make an even bigger difference.
As Troy tells us about his family's experience with plasma, Wyatt and Owen are at his feet playing with toy cars. Wyatt insists that his toys represent real car models, not fakes — a Mercedes-Benz G wagon is his current favourite. And for this family, plasma has also been the real deal, making a real-life difference to two amazing little boys.