Kellen Solem was born with a bleeding disorder.
At the start of his life, he had surgery to alleviate internal bleeding in his brain, and he was diagnosed with Hemophilia B, a disorder in which his blood doesn’t clot properly.
For all of Kellen’s 10 years of life he has had a port in his chest which he and his family use to manage his disorder. Now treatments are helping him do things he couldn’t have in the past.
“We want Kellen to live as normal a life as possible,” said Andrew Solem, Kellen’s father. “And for him to come out West with us for the first time and going to the mountains and do a lot of hard physical hiking and some pretty extreme conditions, we could do that and be pretty confident we could be safe doing it, knowing that we had everything that we would need to treat him.”
Treatment in Fargo
Kellen wasn’t able to play contact sports or go on trips like this in the past. If an accident happened, his disorder can be life-threatening. That’s where Sanford Health Fargo’s Center for Bleeding and Clotting Disorders comes in.
“We are the only federally funded hemophilia treatment center in the state of North Dakota. And so our service area is all of North Dakota and Northern Minnesota,” said Jana Suder, co-medical director of Sanford Center for Bleeding and Clotting Disorders.
“I can’t say enough…how important the treatment center has been,” said Kellen’s mother, Miranda Solem. “They come to the school when Kellen went to preschool and the teachers were terrified, and they made it normal so everybody treated him appropriately.”
His new treatment is a clotting protein that helps slow his bleeding if he does have an accident.
“It is really crazy awesome how fast it works,” said Miranda. “Kellen and Andrew went on a hunting trip last November, and he hit his forehead at the swimming pool. Oh my gosh, the picture Andrew sent me was just horrible – it was so swollen. He treated him, I saw him the next day [and] he looked great.”
Helping others as well
Kellen’s family isn’t just trying to help their son however. His mom started a chapter, and is the current president of the Bleeding Disorders Alliance of North Dakota, where she educates people about the dangers and myths of hemophilia.
“The very first event I was at, our former president [had her 20-year-old son] come up and she was like, ‘Show her your port!’ Kellen was a baby, and she was like, ‘He’s gonna be okay,’” said Miranda Solem.
“Lots of people think that when they hear bleeding disorders in general, they think they’re going to, if they get a paper cut, they will bleed to death. Or that person’s going to just, you know, spew blood across the room and die. That really isn’t the case. They don’t bleed more than others. They just might take a little bit longer to stop bleeding,” said Suder.
Kellen is now able to go hunting and play his favorite sport, baseball, with minimal risk. And most importantly, he can get back to being a kid.
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