GREENVILLE, Ohio – The life-sustaining cycle of giving and receiving blood is well known in the North Star’s Kremer family. A legacy of hemophilia across three generations has been a challenge and an inspiration. It gave Debora Kremer Smith a particular sense of pride when she made her milestone 100th lifetime blood donation Jan. 9 at the Greater Greenville Ministerial Association blood drive.
Debora’s parents Carl and Carolyn Kremer raised a family of four on their dairy farm in North Star. Debora’s brothers Dan and Kevin are both hemophiliacs. A generation later, Debora’s sons Paul and Dean, ages 18 and 14, are hemophiliacs as well.
Dan and Kevin grew up in time when the clotting disorder was not well understood and treatments were still developing. It meant many journeys to Dayton in the dark of night for emergency care during bleeding incidents.
But it was also an opportunity for the community to learn about hemophilia and respond to the family by supporting blood drives. At age 80, Carolyn has 118 lifetime donations and wants to keep donating. Debora followed her mom’s example as a donor, and became a nurse.
“I went to the Miami Valley School of Nursing, and those three years in school I was very consistent donating,” said Debora. She worked at Mercer Hospital in Coldwater and gave birth to her daughter Carla. The challenge of raising two hemophiliac sons gave her a better understanding of what her mother faced.
“It was much easier than for my mother, but you still fear the big injury,” said Debora. “Boys are boys.”
Paul and Dean were able to play CYO basketball and fell in love with swimming, with coaching from their dad.
It’s sobering to know that the Kremer family can never completely ignore the heritage of hemophilia. The disorder is a recessive trait passed on through the females. Dan’s daughter recently gave birth to a son, and he is a hemophiliac.
A generational change in the treatment is the wide use of factor concentrates that don’t have to come from human plasma donations. “My boys’ treatment has been a protein that is artificial,” said Debora. “They don’t have to have the protein from plasma anymore. My brothers would have blood donated for them.”
That circle of giving and receiving that made their community especially interconnected. For Debora, it’s a connection grown only stronger over the Donor for Life journey of 100 donations.