Mendy and Nathan Hood

BDFF Spotlight: Mendy and Nathan Hood

Pictured (from left to right): Mendy and Nathan Hood at the 16th Annual Evening on Broadway BDFF fundraiser

Mendy Hood, Mother of Nathan (von Willebrand)
Resides: Orlando
Home town: Gallapolis, Ohio
Involvement with BDFF: 12 years

Sometimes when you least expect it, an incident occurs in your life that couldn’t be more timely for the situation. And for mothers of children with von Willebrand disease, it can be those seemingly little things that can have such an enormous impact. For Mendy Hood and 17-year-old Nathan, that occurrence was the Bleeding Disorders Foundation of Florida’s recent fundraiser featuring The Lion King at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

“He is obsessed with The Lion King,” says Mendy. “That and Stars Wars and Legos.” She says nothing can compare with the perpetual grin on Nathan’s face the night of the play. “He knows all the words. It was perfect.”

Mendy became involved with the BDFF after Nathan was diagnosed with von Willebrand disease at age 5. Only an estimated one percent of people in the world have von Willebrand disease, a lifelong bleeding disorder restricting blood clotting because the patient has an issue with the blood protein von Willebrand factor. The disease differs from hemophilia in that hemophilia is caused by abnormalities with factor VIII and factor IX. Gene inheritance is also different; von Willebrand usually skips a generation.

“As far as we know, the gene came from his grandmother,” says Mendy, a former Orange County Sheriff Deputy, now working as a patient liaison for a local pharmacy.

Nathan and Mendy have had some rough times over the past 17 years. He has been in and out of hospitals. In and out of surgery. He requires factor IV as needed, especially for nose bleeds when the atmosphere is dry. Nathan also suffers from high functioning autism. Mendy says the BDFF has been there throughout, offering support in many ways.

“When you become part of the Foundation, you know you are not alone,” she says. “It is such a scary thing when your child is diagnosed.”
She says the Foundation assists her with the ever-changing availability of financial assistance for factor products.

“That part can be overwhelming,” she says. “It’s a life and death situation.”

Mendy says leaning on other families for support has been a major component of life with BDFF. When Nathan was a child, they met Dawn Solomon and her son, William, at BDFF’s Family Retreat Weekend at Boggy Creek. They have since all grown close to one another.

“She is my support person,” she says. “They are now family to us.”

But it is certainly not all take for the Hoods, who give back to BDFF and the bleeding disorder community every chance they get by participating in walks, volunteering at events, and attending Camp Boggy Creek to offer support for others, especially newcomers.

“The Foundation was such a change in my life,” Mendy says. “It has made a big difference.”