Jewish Health

Helen - Interview 2

Age at interview: 77

Brief outline: Helen's late husband, Ivor was diagnosed with Factor XI Deficiency in 1995, which explained why he had always bruised and bled easily. In 2002, Ivor died from a stroke two days after a minor operation in which he agreed to try a new clotting agent.

Background: Helen is the widow of Ivor. Helen and Ivor had two children, Ruth (an IT consultant, aged 55) and Colin (an accountant, aged 51). Ethnic background/nationality: British/Jewish

Audio & video

Helen’s husband, Ivor, was diagnosed with Factor XI Deficiency in 1995 having always bled and bruised easily since a very early age. Before he was diagnosed, he would take vitamin K pills if he needed a tooth extracted and this would clot the blood. The Factor XI was detected after a stay in hospital for two hernia operations and Helen describes how Ivor was pleased to be able to put a name to his excessive bleeding. People generally have a Factor XI reading of between 75 and 150 and Ivor’s was three.
In 2002, aged 77, Ivor went into hospital for a minor operation and agreed to try a new clotting agent. The operation was successful and he appeared to recover well. Two days later, however, he became very drowsy and that evening he had a stroke and died. The death certificate recorded his death as ‘stroke caused by Factor XI Deficiency’.
Ivor died on the Friday of the Golden Jubilee weekend which meant that the hospital would not be able to perform a post-mortem until the following Wednesday at the earliest. This was not acceptable to the family who wanted Ivor to be buried as soon as possible. The hospital staff were understanding of their wishes and once the death certificate was issued, the funeral was arranged for the Monday, in accordance with Jewish practices. The family felt that Ivor would have wanted this.

Both Ruth and Colin had their blood tested after their father’s diagnosis. Ruth’s reading is at the low side of normal while Colin has the condition but not at a problematic level. Both their medical records have the condition recorded in case there is a problem with future medical treatment, although the family have found that many medical professionals are not aware of the condition. They also discovered that other family members from their father’s side had the same condition. As both children have married non Jewish people, there was little risk of them passing on the condition.  


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