One of the most important properties of the blood is its power of clotting. It is the only liquid tissue in the body, and to do its other functions it must remain liquid. But a liquid tissue would naturally entirely run out of the body if an opening were made in any blood vessel. Nature prevents this catastrophe by the remarkable adaptation of making the blood clot or solidify when exposed to air. This clot plugs up the opening in the vessel and corks up the rest of the blood behind it.
Sometimes this property of coagulation is absent. The people who have this condition ate called “bleeders.” Whenever they are injured even ever so slightlyenough to open the smallest blood vesselthey have a severe and long continued hemorrhage. The disease is known as haemophilia.
It has made history. Because of its existence, Russia was thrown into revolution, the war was prolonged, the kingdom of Spain was overthrown, and the republic set up. Perhaps not solely on account of haemophilia, but Certainly partly.
The Russian part of the story is graphically told in that most interesting book “Once a Grand Duke.” In 1907 the only son of the czar of Russia, at the age of three, fell while playing in the garden and his nose began to bleed. The court physician applied the usual remedies but the bleeding continued. When the czarina, the little fellow’s mother, heard this, she fainted. She did not need to be told by the physician that this Was the disease which had been hereditary in her father’s family for 300 years.
The rest of the story is well known. The imperial father and mother put their faith in a religious mountebank, Rasputin, who claimed he could cute the heir-presumptive to the throne. His evil influence was a strong factor in precipitating the Russian revolution.
The Queen of Spain is a relative of the czarina, and in her blood also is this taint. Two of her sons have the disease and this fact has been influential in Spanish politics for many years.
The nature of the disease is sufficiently indicated by the situation outlined in the two royal families. The disease is hereditary. It occurs only in males and is transmitted only through the mother. No wonder the King of Spain forbade his daughters to marry. Certainly it is their duty not to bring any more such children into the world.