What is hemophilia?

Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder that slows the body’s ability to form blood clots. When most people bleed, their body naturally forms a clot that stops the bleeding. Creation of a blood clot is made possible by a number of different clotting factor proteins — von Willebrand factor and platelets all working together. In hemophilia, the body doesn't make enough of one of the clotting factors. As a result, a person with hemophilia may bleed for a longer time internally in the joints and muscles, following an injury or — in severe cases — spontaneously.

The two most common types are hemophilia A and hemophilia B. Hemophilia A is diagnosed when the levels of clotting factor VIII (8) are absent or low. Hemophilia B, also known as Christmas disease, is less common and is caused by absent or low levels of clotting factor IX (9). Depending on the level of factor activity measured in the blood, hemophilia can be mild, moderate or severe.  A person born with hemophilia will have it for life.

Hemophilia is usually hereditary and most often occurs in males because the genes for both factor VIII and factor IX are located on the X-chromosome. There is currently no cure for hemophilia, but treatments are available to prevent and treat bleed events and minimize the complications associated with hemophilia.

Accessing hemophilia care: A tale of two countries

Miguel and Marco have hemophilia A, but say they are no longer defined by their illness.

Miguel and Marco have hemophilia A.

How we care for hemophilia

We care for patients who have hemophilia and other bleeding disorders at the Boston Hemophilia Center, a federally-supported hemophilia treatment center (HTC). Our HTC is a joint program between Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Brigham and Women's Physician Organization.

The Boston Hemophilia Center is the largest hemophilia treatment program in New England, offering a comprehensive care model that ensures every aspect of you or your child's health is monitored by experienced pediatric caregivers. Our goal is to enable children, adolescents and young adults with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders to manage their bleeding symptoms as independently as possible and therefore lead more normal, healthy lives.