I Recieved Blood I Received Blood
A different perspective
Carnahan 1953 Mike at Tahuna front steps
Aged just 15 months, Mike Carnahan was admitted to Nelson Hospital after a fall.

“…fell on his face and had bleeding from the upper lip for several days. Bleeding continued and a transfusion was carried out with success on 10 April 1947 because of severe anaemia.”

In the late 1940s, haemophilia was a very rare condition affecting just 1:5000 male births and predicting a life expectancy of barely 21 years. Life was usually cut short as a consequence of a prolonged internal bleeding episode. Being so young however, Mike was referred to specialists in Wellington who diagnosed him with haemophilia.

This was the era of no blood service but to this day, Mike recalls the blood transfusion process.

“I was set up with a 13 gauge needle inserted through a cut down along with a ligature to tie the vein off on completion. My father in the adjacent room was bled into a jug which was then simply poured through a glass funnel into a glass reservoir bottle, through somewhat thick rubber tubing and then into the vein.”

Mike told us that his father William made it a condition of appointment for his apprentices to be blood donors and received tremendous support from the community when blood was needed. Mike continued to receive whole blood treatment throughout the 1950s until he was finally diagnosed with factor IX deficiency in 1957. Fresh frozen plasma appeared in 1963 and the first of the fractionated blood products in 1975. Despite all of this progress, in the early 1980s, it was discovered that HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) were being transmitted in fractionated blood products and many haemophiliacs were infected. This tragedy dramatically hastened the appearance of safer products, recombinants in 1993 and prophylaxis in 1998.After 71 years of reliance on blood products, Mike has now moved from plasma-derived fractionated factor IX to recombinant products but remains forever grateful to the voluntary donors and organisations that have provided such wonderful service.

His great nephew also has severe haemophilia and has been on prophylaxis from birth. Now aged 14 he has had only one joint bleed, never missed a day of school and is able to participate in surfing and other sports.
Mike’s incredible story illustrates the progress made in just one clinical speciality over his lifetime.
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