When Keeley was a child she haemorrhaged after a small dental operation and has bruised easily her entire life, but she was 40 before she realised this was the result of a genetic bleeding disorder.
Had she not decided to breastfeed her newborn son, she may not have discovered that she was a haemophilia carrier – and that her baby had inherited the condition.
Speaking in support of The Haemophilia Society’s Talking Red campaign, which raises awareness of women’s bleeding disorders, Keeley is urging women who may also be experiencing symptoms of bruising, prolonged bleeding after a procedure or heavy periods to consider getting tested.
The Haemophilia Society has produced a nine-point quiz of symptoms to help women decide if they need to get tested. If you can tick two symptoms, The Society recommends you contact us for advice and ask your GP to be tested for a bleeding disorder.
For Keeley, her bleeding disorder came to light when her baby Ben had a procedure to correct his tongue tie which was preventing him from feeding properly. When his cut would not stop bleeding, alarm bells started ringing.
Keeley said: “It was very scary for us as parents, I was encouraged to breastfeed Ben as soon as the tongue tie had been cut as this normally helps to heal, but the blood kept coming. I knew something was wrong. When the doctor asked me about a bleeding disorder in the family, I told him there wasn’t one.”
However, when she phoned her mum to double check, whether there was any family history. It transpired her mother’s half-brother had been diagnosed with mild haemophilia the previous year, at the age of 50, because his grandson had fallen off his skateboard and cut his knee which wouldn’t stop bleeding.
She said: “I was so surprised. I knew nothing about haemophilia – all I knew was that people bled a lot, sometimes to death. We were shocked.”
Although a surprise, the diagnosis meant parts of Keeley’s life suddenly made more sense. She had always bruised easily, and those bruises took a long time to heal. She remembered as a child undergoing a dental procedure. In the morning, she woke up covered in blood. Her wound had haemorrhaged, but it was never explained why.
In fact, she was a haemophilia carrier, meaning that she carried a gene which, if she gave birth to a boy, meant there was a 50 per cent chance of him having haemophilia.
Ben’s haemophilia is mild, meaning that he receives treatment upon injury. Care plans had to be put in place with his nursery and staff received training from their hospital. Keeley and her fiancee now have a second son, Ellison, who also has mild haemophilia.
Keeley said: “Not knowing you are a carrier may not seem to matter, but it means that it would be possible to have a child with a bleeding disorder and not know. This could put the child at risk either through the birth itself or it could mean that they suffer serious damage to their joints as a result of internal bleeding which, perhaps, could have been prevented.
“I would urge anyone reading this who is experiencing similar symptoms to see their GP and to ask to be tested for a bleeding disorder.”