Man enjoys full life despite illness

2016-04-20 06:00
MAHLOMOLA SEFOJANE, a survivor of haemophilia, works full-time and has learned to cope well with his chronic illness.  Photo: Teboho Setena

MAHLOMOLA SEFOJANE, a survivor of haemophilia, works full-time and has learned to cope well with his chronic illness. Photo: Teboho Setena

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MAHLOMOLA SEFOJANE is navigating life burdened with the chronic illness of haemophilia. He has been suffering from the illness, a bleeding disorder, since a young age.

However, Sefojane has not let the disease stand in his way of success and lives a meaningful life. He is living proof to others that haemophilia doesn’t have to get in the way of living the life you love. He was diagnosed with the illness at a very young age and the condition affected his schooling progress. “I had constant nosebleeds and, following that, my parents took me to hospital, where it was discovered that I had haemophilia. I was put under treatment which I have been undergoing since then. I have, in the process, learned to administer it myself. It was also discovered that my mother was a carrier of the condition,” says Sefojane.

Marius J. Coetzee, associate professor and chief specialist: Haematology and Cell Biology at the University of the Free State, says haemophilia is a common hereditary bleeding disorder. He says the incidence of haemophilia is 15 to 20 cases per 100 000 male births and the condition occurs independently of race. Coetzee says approximately 80 persons with haemophilia and related bleeding disorders are currently on the Free State register of the South African Haemophilia Foundation. “A missing protein (factor) which retards or prevents blood clotting causes haemophilia. Treatment consists primarily of the intravenous replacement of this factor,” says Prof. Coetzee.

Sefojane has had to endure tough times since his diagnosis. He told Express that he had to cope with frustration due to missing school because of the condition, resulting in him only completing matric in his early 20’s.

“My survival has certainly been a challenging journey and I’m grateful that I have survived and am now living a normal life. The key factor is treatment and learning to care for oneself. I treat myself with the clotting factor. I do not remember experiencing problems that are uncommon,” he says.

After completing matric in 1998 in his hometown of Qwaqwa, Sefojane enrolled for a course in Human Resource Management with a private institution and graduated with a diploma. He works at the South African Revenue Service (Sars) in Bloemfontein.

Sefojane says support from his parents gave him even more courage in his challenging journey. He is married and is the father of two boys.

“I have the courage to talk about it, since back in the days, haemophilia, to some people in the black community, was like a curse, and you would hardly hear people talk about it to create awareness. My wish is to see people living with haemophilia have access to treatment like anybody else.”

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