How My Sons Conquered the Hemophilia Giant

Joe MacDonald avatar

by Joe MacDonald |

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Last Sunday, I preached a sermon about the Old Testament story of David slaying the giant Goliath.

David was young and much shorter than the very tall Goliath. The odds were against David, yet through divine intervention, he did the unthinkable and took Goliath’s life with one stone. His victory emphasized his utter dependence on something greater than himself as he faced a battle of insurmountable odds.

I immediately thought of my sons who have hemophilia and faced a battle with needles during their formative years.

“MacDonald the Older” struggled to endure infusions after removing his port. The war began with a slight flick of the arm, and the struggle ensued. My wife and I proved a great team as we held him down long enough to find a vein. Once the needle entered his body, the war ended, and he gathered himself.

One day, he did not move when I inserted the needle. After we finished, I asked him why he remained still. He told me that second graders do not wiggle when they get infused. I nodded as if I understood this amazing secret unleashed on the universe.

Somehow, my older son discovered strength and conquered his giant. Fear no longer held him hostage, and over time he learned to infuse himself. We celebrated his newfound discovery and praised him for his bravery. I took pride in his ability to face his deepest fear, the greatest of all giants, and discovered freedom.

“MacDonald the Younger” wrestled with needles from his first infusion. Although he had a port-a-cath, fear of the giant needle gripped him, and his eyes gave way to terror. Every day my boy struggled to overcome the most significant adversities as we wrestled to get the factor VIII into his body. He may have weighed 30 pounds, but he had the strength of 10 men. Many times, while in the hospital, it took five or six nurses to keep him still so that we could infuse him. The experience left us drained and distraught. I hurt for my son as he surrendered to the fear of a giant that seemed never to let go.

One day, I discovered a game we could play when we were setting up to infuse. Instead of trying to finish the process in my time, I asked MacDonald the Younger to stick his thumb up in the air when he was ready. Although it took time, my son moved his finger up slightly every few minutes until his thumb pointed straight to the sky. I infused without a struggle.

I learned that my son was just like me — he needed power over his body. For him, the issue centered on control. The process grew faster over time until one day, my stinky boy said, “Dad, my thumb is up all the time. You can infuse when you’re ready.”

My son found a game to battle the giant of a 1.5-inch needle moving toward him to pierce his skin. He tried to wage war against the foe but surrendered in defeat until he found the ingredient he needed to win one day. He discovered an inner strength that allowed him to stand up to his giant. Once he found his power, he never let it go and continued to infuse until we removed his port.

The truth is, we all face giants. So how do we stand against those situations or ideas that seem so big that they entirely overwhelm us? To answer that question, I turn to my mighty men and learn from their unique ability to slay the beast. Hemophilia may be a giant, but my sons are more than conquerors in the face of adversity.


Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


Allison Pohl avatar

Allison Pohl

I love your storytelling style Joe! And I can so relate to the "power over my own body" struggle. It's incredible that these boys teach us how to have patience, and as a result we have an "Ah Ha!" moment when we give in to it. Thanks for this! (Side note - tell Cazandra I love her stories too, but for some reason the platform won't allow me to comment on her posts for some reason).

Joe MacDonald avatar

Joe MacDonald

Thank you, Allison. I can't count the number of lessons I learned over the years from my sons. I'll share with Caz and maybe we can get something done so that you can share responses with her. I hope all is well with you and the fam!

james avatar


very well written..few people understand


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