It wasn’t until the birth of her son Liam, that Western Australia mother Fiona Smith, was diagnosed as having von Willebrand disorder.
The rare bleeding disorder, estimated to occur in only 1-2 per cent of the population, is caused by a defect or deficiency of a blood clotting protein and can be inherited from either parent.
The now 28-year old says it was on advice from her doctor that she first contacted MedicAlert Foundation to find out more about how to better protect herself – and she says that now offers her daily reassurance.
“Even simple operations like having my wisdom teeth removed poses a significant risk, and while those planned events give me the opportunity to speak with doctors and medical staff and make them aware of my condition, I now feel a sense of relief in being prepared with the DDAVP drip,” she says.
“I live an active life like anyone else, and like everyone else I could just as easily be suddenly injured in a car crash or experience some other accident where I may not be able to tell those coming to help me that I have this bleeding disorder.”
Fiona says it is about managing the risks as best as she can and becoming a MedicAlert member was a proactive way for her to better protect herself.
“I have been rushed to hospital twice and on both occasions my MedicAlert membership has let the ambulance crew know immediately so they administer the right treatment,” she says.
“I strongly encourage anyone with a bleeding disorder to become a member for that added peace of mind and be confident that a paramedic, doctor, nurse or some other health professional is aware of your condition.
“None of us knows that what life will throw at us every day, and that uncertainty means that becoming a MedicAlert member might one day save my life during a situation where I might have no control and cannot talk for myself,” she said.
“I know of incidents where people with von Willebrand disorder have tragically died because emergency crews didn’t know about their condition until it was too late, and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to me or my family,” said Fiona.