“We can have a normal life”: Willmot man hasn’t let haemophilia hinder him

Alfred Camenzuli has haemophilia – as does his grandson.

Alfred Camenzuli was bitten on the face by a dog at the age of five and when the bleeding didn’t stop, his parents soon realised something was wrong.

“I was living in Malta, and in those days no-one knew what was wrong with me or what haemophilia was,” Alfred said.

His family moved to Melbourne in 1949 where seven-year-old Alfred was diagnosed with severe haemophilia.

Haemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder where the blood doesn’t clot properly. April 17 is World Haemophilia Day – a day to raise awareness about the condition and highlight the improvement in diagnosis and access for those who remain untreated.

“The treatment was painful and difficult in the early days,” Alfred said.

“We didn’t have a car so my dad would put me on his bicycle and ride eight miles to the hospital.”

The Willmot resident now comfortably attends Westmead and Blacktown hospitals regularly to receive treatment to help prevent and minimise bleeding caused by the condition.

“My son Bradley comes to the hospital with me and is learning how to give the clotting factor through an intravenous catheter and keep it clean,” he said.

“Haemophilia hasn’t stopped me from living my life and I’ve done everything I wanted to accomplish.”

Alfred receiving treatment at Blacktown Hospital.

Alfred’s oldest sister and daughter carry the same condition and his grandson is affected with haemophilia.

“It’s something we all live with and know that we can live a normal life.”

Westmead Hospital Haematology Clinical Director Associate Professor Jennifer Curnow said the condition could be managed and treated effectively.

“A person with haemophilia does not bleed faster than anyone else, but the bleeding continues for longer and if not treated may continue and lead to a delay in healing,” A/Prof Curnow said.

Alfred has raised his family in western Sydney and enjoyed a productive career in carpentry, retail, factories and the motoring industry spanning more than 25 years.

He adores his adult children and grandchildren, and spends time on his hobby – building wooden convertible cars and trucks.

Haemophilia is a lifelong, inherited condition and occurs through genetics in families. More than 2,800 people in Australia with haemophilia are nearly all male according to the Haemophilia Foundation Australia.

For further information, please talk to your GP or contact the Westmead Haemophilia Treatment centre – part of The Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre Westmead Hospital.