March is Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month. More than 60,000 people in Indiana are living with a bleeding disorder and the majority of them don’t even know it.
A bleeding disorder is defined as a condition in which the blood does not clot properly. That covers things like hemophilia and von Willebrand Disease.
“Von Willebrand Disease is actually the most common bleeding disorder where about 1% of the population is affected. That’s the disorder that I have,” said Kimber Blackwell, physician assistant at one of the nation’s largest hemophilia treatment centers, the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center. Blackwell also lives in Fortville.
Most bleeding disorders are genetic.
“The good news is the care through hemophilia treatment centers has really improved the lives of people with those disorders. It takes women on average 16 years before they’re ever diagnosed. That’s why bleeding disorder awareness is so important. I was 30 and already in the medical field before I was ever diagnosed with VWD,” said Blackwell.
Blackwell says having a bleeding disorder is like having one domino missing.
“When you try to knock over a domino, then that affects the next domino and the next one, and when one of those is taken out, you need the right treatment product to replace that domino so that all the right things happen in the body,” said Blackwell.
Blackwell says treatments for bleeding disorders can run into the thousands of dollars.
Most common symptoms of of VWD include the following:
◦ Frequent nosebleeds
◦ Abnormal or easy bruising (also known as ecchymosis or hematoma)
◦ Excessive bleeding of the gums
◦ Bleeding after minor injury
◦ Bleeding after surgery
◦ Gastrointestinal bleeding
◦ Heavy menstrual bleeding
◦ Bleeding after childbirth
If a bleeding disorder is left untreated, then the bleeding may cause damage to joints, muscles, or internal organs and may be life-threatening.