Stephen Christmas (1947-1993) was a 5 year old boy when he became the first patient described to have Christmas disease (or Haemophilia B) in 1952 by a group of British doctors.
Steven was born to a British family in Canada, and was investigated for his severe bleeding disorder in Oxford, where it was discovered that he was not deficient in Factor VIII, which is normally decreased in classic haemophilia, but a different protein, which received the name Christmas factor in his honour (and later Factor IX).
Stephen was dependant on blood and plasma transfusions, and was infected with HIV in the period during which blood was not routinely screened for this virus. He campaigned for transfusion safety ever since getting infected, but developed AIDS, of which he died in 1993.
Giangrande PL. Six characters in search of an author: the history of the nomenclature of coagulation factors. Br J Haematol 2003;121:703-12. PMID 12780784.
Biggs RA, Douglas AS, MacFarlane RG, Dacie JV, Pittney WR, Merskey C, O'Brien JR. Christmas disease: a condition previously mistaken for haemophilia.Br Med J 1952;2:1378-1382. PMID 12997790.
Stephen reflects on this suggestion, recalling the fine white hands of one of the students, and thinking also of the soft ivory hands of his neighbor Eileen Vance.
There is great symbolic importance in the scene in which Stephen's peers lift him up over their heads and acclaim him as a hero, as it suggests a heroic side of the young boy that we have not seen before.
Stephen's summoning of the courage to denounce Father Dolan's injustice is a moral triumph, rather than a more conventional heroic triumph in sports or fighting.
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