Hemophilia is caused by a deficiency of clotting factor in the blood which causes prolonged bleeding from mild injuries. The kind of bruise any child could sustain during play may trigger internal hemorrhaging. In severe cases, internal bleeding can start without apparent cause, spreading into joints and tissues. Swelling and intense pain usually result and with the repetition of such episodes, the person with hemophilia becomes crippled by his own blood.
The most common form of hemophilia is hemophilia A, which is caused by a lack of deficiency of factor VIII, a blood plasma protein. Hemophilia B, the next most common form, is caused by a lack or deficiency of the factor IX blood plasma protein.
Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder, occurring most often in males. Approximately 1 out of every 4,000 American males will be born with the disease, inherited through the mother. Hemophilia can occur in any family, even one without a known history of the disease.
The treatment of hemophilia is extremely expensive. Because persons with hemophilia have a virtually normal life span, they must bear the catastrophic costs for a lifetime. The cost of blood products and other hemophilia related medical expenses will vary from person to person. Studies have shown that the average cost to an individual for blood products alone is over $150,000. On occasion, complications of hemophilia have caused annual medical expenses to exceed $500,000.
Other factor deficiencies and platelet disorders (such as vonWillebrand�s Disorder) may occur in both males or females. The prevalence of these dysfunctions may be much higher.