Definitions

Christmas disease

Stephen Christmas

Stephen Christmas (12 February, 194720 December, 1993) was a 5 year old boy when he became the first patient described to have Christmas disease (or Haemophilia B) in 1952 by a group of British doctors.

Biography

Stephen was born to a British family in London. He emigrated to Toronto, Canada with his family, and was there at the age of 2 years that haemophilia was diagnosed at the Hospital for Sick Children. The family returned to London in 1952 to visit their relatives, and during the trip Stephen was admitted to hospital. A sample of his blood was sent to the Oxford Haemophilia Centre in Oxford, where Rosemary Biggs and R.G. McFarlane discovered that he was not deficient in Factor VIII, which is normally decreased in classic haemophilia, but a different protein, which received the name Christmas factor in his honour (and later Factor IX).

Stephen enrolled in the Ryerson Institute of Technology (now Ryerson University) in Toronto studying photography. He worked as a taxicab driver after graduation and was employed for some years as a medical photographer at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Stephen was dependent on blood and plasma transfusions, and was infected with HIV in the period during which blood was not routinely screened for this virus. He became an active worker for the Canadian Haemophilia Society and campaigned for transfusion safety ever since getting infected, but developed AIDS, of which he died in 1993.

References

  • Giangrande PL. Six characters in search of an author: the history of the nomenclature of coagulation factors. Br J Haematol 2003;121:703-12. PMID 12780784.
  • Biggs RA, Douglas AS, MacFarlane RG, Dacie JV, Pittney WR, Merskey C, O'Brien JR. Christmas disease: a condition previously mistaken for haemophilia. Br Med J 1952;2:1378-1382. PMID 12997790.

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