Grady Watson, 6, of Pine Mountain, was diagnosed with hemophilia at 3 months old. The family was aware that their newborn son could have the bleeding disorder, as the boy's grandfather, great-uncle and a cousin all suffer from the genetically-inherited disease.
"Grady has a mild form of hemophilia," said his mother, Tori. "We have to watch his injuries carefully, especially if his joints bleed. He always wears a medical alert bracelet or necklace."
With Grady in mind, about 40 walkers and runners gathered along the Chattahoochee RiverWalk at Rotary Park Saturday for the first Trot to Clot Walk and Run 5K in Columbus. The money raised from the event will help send him to Camp Wannaklot next summer, a week-long residential outdoor camp for youngsters with bleeding disorders held at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Ga. The event was sponsored by Hemophilia of Georgia, with the support of local businesses.
Hemophilia is a rare disease that results in low levels of blood-clotting proteins, explained Mary Ann Tyler, an outreach nurse with Hemophilia of Georgia. Bleeding from small injuries can be readily monitored, but bleeding in the joints can cause serious damage, and internal bleeding can quickly become life-threatening. There is no cure, but there are several treatment options depending on the severity of the disease and injury. It is passed on through the mother, and it affects about 17,000 people in the United States, primarily males.
"Next summer is the first year that Grady will be old enough to go to camp," Tyler said. With a trained medical staff on hand, children learn about their disease, how to take care of themselves and can participate in traditional outdoor camp activities, "They spend the week with other children with hemophilia," Tyler said, "and they realize that they are not alone."