My experience of travelling and working with haemophilia
James Gorman is a 30-year old with severe haemophilia A. Here he writes about his experiences travelling the world with the condition.
Growing up, I was often worried about how my haemophilia might impact my ability to travel the world… with bulky packaging, vials that needed to be kept in a fridge, never mind thinking about needles and airport security! My first experience of travelling abroad with haemophilia came whilst I was at university. As part of my studies, I had the opportunity to apply for an Erasmus+ placement in Slovakia to work on and learn from a project developing nature conservation and eco-tourism. It was quite a leap to go from never having been out of the country before to travelling on my own to live and work in a new country for six weeks!
Building a nature trail through wetland forest in Slovakia
Calculating the right amount of treatment to take was a challenge, and looking back, I’m not sure I got my maths right! Towards the end of the sixth week, I was running very short on treatment. It was certainly a learning experience though, and has taught me valuable lessons about always overestimating the amount of treatment I need, factoring in for bleeds, and even taking extra needles for when an initial attempt to find a vein goes wrong. It is often recommended that you take more of your treatment than you would normally need when travelling; though for long trips its worth considering how much space is required in your luggage. Particularly when the advice is often to stash treatment in your hand luggage, so that it doesn’t get lost or damaged in the hold.
Estonia and Arizona – two places that my work has taken me to – something that, when I was younger, I would never have dreamed would be possible with my haemophilia.
Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world, though I’m always much more careful to have extra treatment with me after my initial close call! My earlier anxieties about being stopped at security have never actually been realised – in fact, my iPad has caused me more trouble at security than my medication ever has! Though, following the World Federation of Haemophilia’s tips of travellers, I always make sure I have a letter from my clinicians to explain why I’m carrying treatment – just in case.
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