JMHSK - Dedicated to helping those who suffer from hemophilia

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History of Hemophilia

 Although effective treatment has only become available in recent decades, hemophilia was known to the ancient world. The earliest written references to what appears to be hemophilia are encountered in Jewish texts of the second century AD. Rabbinical rulings exempted male boys from circumcision if two previous brothers had died of bleeding after the procedure.

The Jewish physician Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) applied this ruling to the sons of a woman who had married twice, thus apparently appreciating the hereditary nature of the condition. The Arabic physician Albucasis (1013-1106) also described a family where males died after trivial injury.


First descriptions

The first modern description of hemophilia is attributed to Dr. John Conrad Otto, a physician in Philadelphia, who in 1803 published a treatise entitled "An account of an hemorrhagic disposition existing in certain families." He clearly appreciated the three cardinal features of hemophilia:an inherited tendency of males to bleed.

Otto traced back the pedigree of the family he studied to a woman who had settled near Plymouth, New Hampshire, in about 1720. However, the first use of the word "hemophilia" appears in an account of the condition written in 1828 by Hopff ("Über die haemophilie oder die erbliche Anlage zu todlichen Blutungen"), a pupil of Schönlein at the University of Zurich. Hemophilia B was only distinguished from the more common type in 1952, and is often referred to as "Christmas disease" after the surname of the first child reported with this condition.
Hemophilia is sometimes referred to as “the royal disease” because several members of noble families in Europe were affected by it. Queen Victoria had no ancestors with the condition but soon after the birth of her eighth child, Leopold, in 1853, it became evident that he had hemophilia. Queen Victoria was thus an example of how the condition can arise as a spontaneous mutation. Leopold died at the age of 31 from an intracerebral hemorrhage after a fall. Two of Queen Victoria"s own daughters, Alice and Beatrice, were also carriers of hemophilia. The condition was transmitted through them to several royal families in Europe, including Spain and Russia. Perhaps the most famous affected individual was the son of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Tsarevich Alexis, who was born in 1904. There has been speculation that the illness led to severe strain within the royal family, and enabled Rasputin to gain influence over the family, ultimately leading to the downfall of this once powerful dynasty.

Early treatments
Many reputable scientists claimed early success in treating with unusual substances. A report in The Lancet in 1936 extolled the virtues of a bromide extract of egg white. As recently as 1966, a report in the esteemed scientific journal Nature claimed that peanut flour was also effective for the treatment of hemophilia. The first hint of success came with the report from R.G. Macfarlane in 1934 that snake venoms could accelerate the clotting of haemophilic blood, and he reported success in controlling superficial bleeds in people with hemophilia after topical application.
Blood transfusion
However, the major advances came from developments in the field of blood transfusion. A report from a surgeon, Samuel Lane, in The Lancet in 1840 described the control of post-operative bleeding with fresh blood in a boy with severe hemophilia. However, a lack of understanding of blood groups and basic transfusion methods hindered further development at the time. The identification of factor VIII and the development of specific assays then permitted the subsequent development of therapeutic materials.

Plasma concentrates
In the early 1950s, plasma from animals was used for treatment. While often effective, allergic reactions to these porcine and bovine materials were frequent and often severe. The work of Dr. Edwin Cohn in developing fractionation of plasma with variation of temperature and concentrations of saline and alcohol led to the development of fairly crude plasma concentrates of human factor VIII in a number of centres ("AHG" or "antihemophilic globulin").
A truly major advance was the discovery by Dr. Judith Pool in 1965 that slow thawing of plasma to around 4°C led to the appearance of a brown sediment which was rich in factor VIII, which she called cryoprecipitate. Within a decade, lyophilized coagulation factor concentrates made an appearance. These offered considerable advantages: they could be stored in a domestic refrigerator at 4 oC, and permitted the administration of a large and assayed quantity of coagulation factor rapidly and in a small volume. The availability of such products facilitated home treatment, allowing patients for the first time to treat themselves at home, work, school, or even whilst on holiday abroad -- freeing them from the physical and psychological Shackles of hemophilia.
However, we now recognise that this introduced the potential for the transmission of viruses. The impact of HIV was particularly devastating, with large numbers of patients around the world being infected in the period 1979-1985. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) was first identified in 1989, and it soon became clear that an even higher proportion of people with hemophilia had been exposed to this virus which results in chronic liver disease. Fortunately, the introduction of physical treatments of concentrates such as exposure to heat or the addition of a solvent-detergent mixture has effectively eliminated the risk of the transmission of these viruses. Another landmark was the recognition by Prof. Pier Mannucci in 1977 that desmopressin (DDAVP) could boost levels of both factor VIII and von Willebrand factor, and this remains a useful option in mild forms of these conditions.

Recombinant products and gene therapy
The structure of the factor VIII gene was characterised and cloned in 1984. This led to the availability of recombinant (genetically engineered) factor VIII a decade later. The availability of safe products has stimulated the growth of prophylactic treatment, although it must be emphasized that the concept is certainly not new and was developed by Prof. Inga Marie Nilsson in Sweden in the 1950s.The rate of progress continues apace, and gene therapy is a realistic goal. However, we do not forget that many people with hemophilia around the world still receive absolutely no treatment. Perhaps the current position can best be expressed in words paraphrased from Sir Winston Churchill: this is not the end of our struggle to conquer hemophilia, and not even the beginning of the end. However, we can at least say that this is the end of the beginning of our campaign.


About Us

The purpose of the society is to provide service and support to persons with hemophilia or other clotting disorders and their families. Read more

Our Programs

JMHSK runs a number of programs aimed at education; support and offering affordable medical help to those living with hemophilia. Read More


Annual Events

17th April: We celebrate World Hemophilia Day

25th April: Family Day as it marks Jose Memorial Day

How you can help

We rely on the generous support of individuals and groups to provide services, education and support for people living with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders. Read More








Our Team Our Team


Our Vision

Healthy, active and empowered citizens living with Hemophilia


Our Mission

To provide comprehensive care, medical support and service to people with Hemophilia through registration, provision of treatment, education and training.


Our Programs

Medical Programs

One of the Society’s ultimate goals is to provide comprehensive care meaning that along with factor replacement therapy, patients receive physiotherapy, dental hygiene, genetic counselling, diagnostics, psychosocial therapy, orthopedics and surgical care. 

Organizational Programs

The society was launched on 17th April 2009 during the World Hemophilia Day (WHD) at the MP Shah Hospital to give it credibility and to create awareness on a wider scale. The media was present at the launch in an effort to inform the public of the presence and purpose of the society.

Family Programs

In Kenya, the pressure to provide basic medical care leaves families on the sidelines. Many families are reluctant and afraid to assert their needs and have thus learnt to be helpless and hopeless, and suffer in silence.

Government Lobbying

The society cannot achieve its vision of comprehensive Hemophilia care without the government’s support. Hemophilia is rare and the government faces other urgent medical needs thus our case can get lost in the many voices crying for government attention.


Fund Raising & Public Awareness



As public awareness on the society is raised, more people will contribute to its success. The society will endeavor to run both of these concurrently to ensure success as they are intimately related. We undertake to identify the stakeholders listed below and create linkages.

Funding source include:

  1. The government
  2. Private Individuals
  3. Corporations and Businesses
  4. The General Public




Useful Links

© 2018 Jose Memorial Hemophilia Society. All Rights Reserved.

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