Let Us Introduce You: Benjamin Imlay

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Imagine pinching your eyes shut and anticipating the pain of pulling a baby tooth. Then, the brave act of clutching the white square on soft pink gum, the culminating rip separating tooth from mouth and the inevitable blood. But the blood doesn’t stop. It can’t stop. So now the simple act of losing baby teeth turns into an emergency. A small cut turns into a hospitalization. A knee scrape falling off a bike turns into a trip to the ER instead of soap and a bandage. A bloody nose is the end of the world. This is the life of a person with hemophilia like Benjamin Imlay, a junior studying here at Saint Louis University who has hemophilia A.

Hemophilia is a typically genetic bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency of clotting factor. Tis means that the everyday cuts and bruises that we all suffer and heal quickly from can take much longer for a mild hemophiliac like Ben.

“I will form clots—slowly. And my clots are thinner and weaker than usual. In severe cases (of hemophiliacs), clots hardly form, and bleeding is unrestricted,” he says.

For those individuals, daily infusions of factor, which signal the body to clot blood, are necessary alongside extensive safety precautions. In cases of injury it is better for hemophiliacs to be identified early.

Ben was recently awarded as the second-time winner of Pfizer’s Soozie Courter Hemophilia Scholarship, a program that helps students with hemophilia pursue their academic and professional goals by paying some of the costs associated with obtaining a higher education. Ben has certainly earned this honor, he challenges himself every day with goals and dreams and aspirations.

“I had wanted to be an astronaut,” he said, “but an astronaut can’t have a bleeding disorder.” Though he’s never encountered someone who denied or diminished his disorder, there’s something to be said about having a limitation due to a genetic disease.

We all have our limitations, and Ben says, “Living with my own hemophilia helped me realize early on that life is not a mold to be filled where the biggest mold is the best. We craft our own journeys, our interests and our own fulfillment.”

We all pursue our own interests. Ben studies English on the pre-med track, which he says is really because he loved reading Moby-Dick and he didn’t love engineering. He’s an Eagle Scout and received a Kansas nursing aide certification in 2015. He minors in medical humanities and feels English and medicine compliment one another.

Ben is inspiring because he chooses to overcome a limitation he didn’t get to choose and because he loves life. You can find him watching SNL every weekend with his girlfriend, driving around in his Jeep, baking cookies and cakes in the late hours of the night and working every day to craft his own journey