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In His Blood: A Doctor Driven by Hemophilia

Not many second-graders manage to clear the school with a single show-and-tell project. But 8-year-old Holbrook Kohrt had a knockout demonstration. Literally. 

Kohrt, a hemophiliac, was showing his class how he had learned to give himself lifesaving injections of a blood-clotting factor that his body was unable to make naturally. Engrossed in the performance of what was for him a routine occurrence, he was startled by the reaction of others in the room. 

“Halfway through, my teacher passed out, as did many of the other students,” he says. Because his rural Pennsylvania school was both remote and minimally staffed, the entire school was dismissed for the afternoon. 

Kohrt, now an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University with an MD and a PhD to his name, is keenly aware of the importance of healthy blood — mostly because he doesn’t have any. He tells the show-and-tell story in a wry tone, acknowledging the inherent comedy in the scene. But it’s a rare light-hearted moment in a childhood that was, by any measure, harrowing. As a child in the early ’80s, he, like other hemophiliacs, was forced to rely on transfusions from apparently healthy donors to prevent bleeding to death from even minor injuries. But these treatments carried a significant risk of lethal infection.

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  1. haemophilia-queensland reblogged this from medresearch
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  11. sweetcinnamonflavor reblogged this from medresearch and added:
    it’s not even funny how many times i’ve encountered patients like him and his unfortunate friends in the hospital… it’s...
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  13. tracerhu reblogged this from medresearch and added:
    Awesome. This is for Jason. I miss you.
  14. tracerhu said: This means a lot to me as one of my best friends sons died from complications of AIDS after a contaminated blood transfusion in the early 80’s due to hemophilia. He was only 14. Thank you for publishing. Dr. Kohrt survived for a reason.
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