Brandyn and Nicole Gonzalez
Reside: Wesley Chapel
Hometowns: Wesley Chapel, Pittsburgh
Involvement with BDFF: One Year
Brandyn and Nicole Gonzalez knew very little about bleeding disorders, much less that there was a community of those dealing with such disorders. After being married less than two years, the Wesley Chapel couple welcomed their first child nine months ago.
A week after his birth, Harrison was diagnosed with Severe Hemophilia A when during his circumcision, the bleeding would not stop. The news was a bit disturbing to the young couple; there is no knowledge of hemophilia in Nicole’s family.
“We were surprised,” says Brandyn. “Neither us knew anything about hemophilia, except what we learned in high school. Nicole and I were really upset at first, but we have learned it is not as detrimental as we thought it would be.”
“It is a manageable disorder,” adds Nicole, who just found out in May that she is a carrier. Harrison is being treated at the Comprehensive Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorders Treatment Center at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, which cares for infants to age 21.
At first, things seemed pretty normal for the Gonzalez family—until Harrison began to be mobile.
“He is learning to walk and goes full speed on his walker,” Brandyn laughs. “He is bruising up bad because he’s a real daredevil, but it doesn’t seem to hurt him.”
When Brandyn and Nicole are in public they realize that educating people on hemophilia is part of their new reality, something members of the bleeding disorders community learn comes with the territory.
“He can be bruised from head to toe,” says Brandyn. “We do have to explain it to people.”
The family found the support of the Foundation right away, which supplied them with resources and offered assistance with medical expenses, , if needed.
“Dina [Richardson] got a helmet for him,” Brandyn says about the Foundation’s social worker. “He didn’t like it at first, but he wears it if he is going to be playing anywhere. We are trying to treat him as a normal baby, though. We don’t want to helicopter him or bubble wrap him.”
Beyond the bruising, Brandyn says Harrison’s short nine-month presence on the planet has been relatively problem free.
He adds that he and Nicole have been following the Foundation’s on-line Voices segment that relates real-life stories of the bleeding disorders community. Not only are they new members of that community, they are now members of those who have graciously told their story for the betterment of others.
“Reading those stories has really helped us out,” he says.