Sharron’s father Glenn has haemophilia, so she has always known and lived with haemophilia. When she was a child it was thought that only boys had haemophilia, so it was a surprise to her parents when Sharron was diagnosed with mild haemophilia A.
Sharron’s factor levels were tested when she was 3 years old, before she had a tonsillectomy. “My level of factor VIII (8) at that time was 17%.” This level was in the range for mild haemophilia (5-40% of normal clotting factor).
Growing up, it was a challenge to be accepted as a girl with haemophilia. “Mum would always go to the school to explain haemophilia to the teachers, but the doctors wouldn’t believe I had it as boys have haemophilia, not girls’. I learned at a young age to advocate for myself.
Moving forward, Sharron and her husband wanted to start a family and knew the chances of having a child with haemophilia. “I was quite accepting of the fact that our children would have haemophilia,” she said. “First Ben came along and he had haemophilia. Following Ben, the other two children didn’t.”
With a family history behind her, including her own, she has been relieved to see that the experience of growing up with haemophilia has been so much better for her son – but proud, too, of how he has dealt with his bleeding disorder.
“Ben’s experience growing up was so different to mine, and even more to my dad’s era, with better treatment and people are more accepting. Ben wouldn’t change having haemophilia as it has made him the person he is and meant he met all the wonderful people. We are so lucky to be part of such a tight knit community and the friendships that we have made along the way.”
The family first went to a community camp when he was 10 years old and today Ben is one of the camp directors and youth leaders.
Sharron continues to be involved in local women’s groups and sharing what she has learned from her experience. Mothers who carry the gene often focus on looking after their children and forget about their own health. As a woman with haemophilia and a mother and a daughter to males with haemophilia, Sharron has a strong reminder to other women in her position – “My message to women is ‘I’m no good to any of my family if I am not looking after myself!’”
You can read more about Sharron’s experiences in the Personal Stories and The Female Factors publications on the HFA website https://www.haemophilia.org.au/publications/women-with-bleeding-disorders