“I am so grateful that I have been able to become a productive member of society, finish college, and have a rewarding career,” Underwood says. “The Center played a critical role in making it all possible.”Barry Underwood was diagnosed with hemophilia when he was circumcised as an infant. His parents were initially shocked at how profusely their child bled, but upon reflection, Barry’s mother and aunt remembered that their father had a bleeding problem as well.
As a longtime patient of Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital’s Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC), Barry, now 56, epitomizes the successes and setbacks hemophilia patients experienced over the past half-century.
Care in those days consisted of treatment on demand, some hospitalization and a lot of physical therapy. The turning point in Underwood’s life came with the availability of clotting-factor concentrates. At age 14, he learned self-infusion and was able to manage his own care to a certain degree.
“Life became more predictable. I was suddenly free to travel and do things that I wanted to do,” he says.
In 1980, Underwood accepted a full-time job at the HTC as a clerical coordinator. For six years, he maintained records, attended hemophilia rounds with doctors and nurses, and scheduled appointments.
Around the time he was working at HTC, like most hemophilia patients throughout the nation, he acquired HIV from being infused with contaminated blood products. Medications have kept Underwood’s HIV under control, and while he still leads an active life, he eventually had to leave his job at HTC, a place he holds dear to his heart.