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Alex’s Story

Alex Dowsett is a British professional cyclist who rides for Great Britain. Alongside being a two stage winner at the Giro d’Italia, six time National Time Trial Champion and Former World Hour Record Holder, Alex is the only known elite professional sportsman with haemophilia. If Alex competes at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, he will be the first haemophiliac ever to do so outside of the Paralympics.

The diagnosis

Alex was diagnosed with severe haemophilia A when he was just 18 months old. There was no known family history of haemophilia and Alex was bruising easily. Multiple trips to the doctors resulted in the same way: being turned away time and time again being told “he’s just a baby that bruises easily”.

After a fall left Alex with a cut lip that wouldn’t stop bleeding, Alex’s parents took him to the doctors once again. It was a weekend they say they’ll never forget when the word ‘bleeder’ was first used alongside the unfamiliar term haemophilia. After a few days of testing, it was revealed Alex had severe haemophilia A with 0-1% of the clotting factor VIII.

This was in 1989 and life for haemophiliacs back then had just turned a corner.

In Alex’s words

“I’ve never known life without haemophilia, so I can’t compare or contrast to someone else’s experiences. What I can say is that a lifetime of being told what you can’t do makes you want to go out there and show the world what you CAN do, and cycling became a lifeline for me to do this.

I was so fortunate that Mum and Dad took my condition by the horns so to speak, and right from an early age I was being taken to swimming lessons, sailing lessons, basketball and everything in between that would keep me active in a way that respected my condition. Swimming helped my mobility and improved my lung capacity and I always attest that’s why the transition to cycling in my teen years was so successful – I had a base level of fitness that was ready to go.

I don’t think I would have achieved what I have done in cycling without my haemophilia. I don’t think it’s a sport I would have ever considered had it not been for all the ‘usual’ sports like rugby and football being off the table as an option.”

Alex’s Mum and Dad’s story

There was no history of haemophilia in the family so it came as a shock when Alex was diagnosed. Jan and Phil Dowsett have shared their experience with the disorder, and how they encouraged Alex into safe sports and physical activity.

They are proud to be mentors for Little Bleeders and enjoy helping other parents of young haemophiliacs.

Read the full story

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