Bleeding with gratitude – Morris tells his story of living with hemophilia

The joy of every parent is drawn from the child’s first cry at birth. The feeling is second best to none when both parents see themselves in the tiny little baby whom God in His admirable creation created to bring everlasting joy, support and all the good things that comes with giving birth. A baby’s cry, so pure that somewhere, somehow a wave of joy takes away all the tsunami of pain a mother has been feeling.

This was the same feeling for my parents – Akumu Mary, and Ojok John Bosco when they received me into this world. Hi! My name is Okello Morris Griffin, a twenty-seven-year-old hemophilic patient. This condition meant that the joy of my parents was short-lived from the moment I was born. I have been grappling with uncontrolled bleeding, pain and stiffening of the joints; the ankle, the knee, and the wrist.

Hemophilia is a rare genetic disorder that affects the blood’s ability to clot properly. This is because people with hemophilia are missing or have low levels of certain proteins responsible for clotting. Without these proteins, even a small injury can lead to excessive bleeding.

Because it is rare and difficult to comprehend, my parents had no clue that the first swelling on my back was due to hemophilia. I was only two months then when my mother spotted a mark on my back that looked like an insect bite, but the spot soon escalated into a huge swelling. The swelling never came alone – it was accompanied by pain that wouldn’t let me and my mother sleep.

My father was pursuing his certificate course in Enrolled Nursing at Lacor School of Nursing at the time.

As one age bundles onto another, reactivity series to games and all the vigorous activities kept worsening. At the age of five, I fell and hit my right knee really hard as I was learning how to ride a bicycle. In a space of less than thirty minutes, the knee had swollen to the maximum. At this point in time, my parents were still unaware about my condition.

The swollen knee was mistaken for a dislocated knee and I was handed over to a traditional herbalist who took the role of a physiotherapist. He manhandled the knee back and forth on several occasions not knowing he was causing more harm. And that’s how I ended up with a stiff right knee.

Morris in the hospital with his father and the swollen hand

It had hardly been a year from the trauma, immense pain and suffering – not only for me but also the ones who loved me with everything they got when another heart wrecking situation came with my left hand. It all started with a small swelling that later grew into something that wasn’t nice to look at.

A glimmer of hope came, this time dressed in my aunt’s best attire of love. Sr. Angioletta Apio Anyai, who works at St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor picked me up Ogony village, Ongako sub county, Omoro district and brought me the hospital to avoid a reoccurrence of the nasty past that took my right knee.

With God’s infinite mercy, I got the most amazing medical team ever who were passionate not only about their work but the smiles on a patient’s face. This meant the world to them – Mr. Martin, Dr. Jackson, Sr. Aling Faiza who used to work in the emergency unit – to mention but a few. They worked tirelessly round the clock to not only save my hand, but also find out every problem with me. After four months in the hospital, I went home with my left wrist and the fingers stiffened.

Between the age of eight to fourteen, there were series of attacks that were now managed closely by the hospital because they had their suspicions on hemophilia but could not prove it yet.  Just like they say; ‘in the absence of a crocodile, the lizard would do,’ these wise doctors used fresh blood in the absence of factor IX, a clotting protein that came much later in the years.

My father, tormented by the world where every step could mean pain for the son, had to come to terms with my conational predicament and looked for ways to support me, even while at school.

While working at Lacor Hospital, fate brought Dr. Raymond Towey to my rescue through my father whom are best of friends. Being an angel with a stethoscope, Dr. Raymond took my blood sample for testing in the United Kingdom in 2009. The results turned out that I have hemophilia B, meaning I lack clotting factor IX.

Morris back at Lacor as an intern

Lacor Hospital, being a home for not only patients but doctors too, meant that the outcome of the results did not only speak out for me but for the other hemophilia patients who had no idea of what hemophilia is and also gave the doctors a task on how to manage the patients with such conditions.

Thanks to the administration of St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor in conjunction with Hemophilia Foundation of Uganda, clotting factors are now available at the hospital for easy access to all patients within the region. Ever since I was enrolled for the coagulation factor, the frequencies of having uncontrolled bleeds and swellings have gone down.

Having been fed by the hands of St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor that serve good health, love and care for their patients as well as good morals for the children who grow under its care, I Morris will stand by the hospital no matter the circumstances. Whatever kind of support I can afford, I will offer, however small it may be for the Hospital breathed life into me.

Today am doing my internship with the Communications Department at the very hospital where the heart of my life revolved. Agnes, the CEO, Hemophilia Foundation of Uganda, Dr. Kate, Dr. Ray, and all those whose names are not mentioned here, watered the growth in my career through psychosocial and  financial support and above all, thank you for making me not give up on myself.

Yours with Love, Morris

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