Luan Van Heerden was diagnosed with Severe Haemophilia A at the age of 1. Now, 18 years later, he has matriculated and busy with his 1st year of University, studying Sustainable Development.
Asked about the impact that his diagnosis had on his life as a child, he told me that he never saw it as “What he could not do” but as “What I must see coming – I must look forward, a few steps ahead, before tackling something”. He would always make an effort to take part in activities, and he says his primary school friends often forgot that he had Haemophilia!
Asked about sport (which for haemophiliacs is a major challenge due to the risk of being injured), he says he took part in practices in sports such as rugby and water polo.
However, Boat racing became a passion as he grew older, as his father had taken part in this sport as he grew up, and Luan (along with his mom) were the “pit crew”. He was 3 years old when his father introduced him to the boat, and over the years spent many hours out on the boat practising with his father.
Luan obtained his Skipper’s licence last year, and the scene was set – he would crew with his father in his last race, as his father was retiring from the sport.
These Trans Atlantic/Trans Agulhas races are done in Inflatable boats (rubber ducks) – one of the hardest water racing disciplines. Luan tells us that one crew member is at the back handling the throttle and steering of the boat, and the other is at the front to balance the boat – this requires a lot of moving around. Of course, he was the man at the front!
Medicating every day, he managed his Haemophilia risk – he says although sometimes he was stiff he pushed through – “Once you start racing you forget about the pain”
Luan has had a few health challenges due to his Haemophilia, but nothing keeps him back from living life to the full.
MedicAlert salutes you for your courage, and wishes you all the best for your future.