Hemophilia and Vampires!

It’s Halloween week!

The holiday is a festive one, in which children and adults dress up in traditional costumes like ghosts, Frankenstein, pumpkins, devils and vampires, and nontraditional like pirates, doctors, celebrities and political figures.

I recently watched a holiday classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and am reading the classic Dracula, by Bram Stoker—a masterpiece of creativity and writing! If you haven’t read it, please do!

And as vampires are associated with blood, our contributing writer Richard Atwood has investigated literature about hemophilia involving vampires!

Vampire Blood Bank is a book about Lorenzo Zilch, called Larry, a male emergency room nurse at Samaritan Hospital in New York City. Larry narrates his involvement with Aaron E. Newman, a Jewish person with hemophilia who, while walking through Central Park on Thanksgiving night, is bitten by the first ever Jewish vampire!

Aaron turns as a vampire. Yet he has hemophilia. And Aaron abhors the sight of blood, so he cannot bite others! Larry and Aaron then open the Eleventh Hour Blood Bank to meet their needs, though not without others wanting a piece of the action.

Sound interesting? Richard writes that this farcical novel has no redeeming value other than laughter, “which is the best medicine.” The full title is The Saga of a Jewish Hemophiliac Who Can’t Bite So He Opens a Vampire Blood Bank. Almost every page contains a joke or gag designed for mature audiences. Aaron takes treatment for his hemophilia, and for his thirst for blood, from the stockpile at the Eleventh Hour Blood Bank.

He treats himself with four bags of whole blood per day. This treatment is enough to cover his prostate surgery. Aaron finds that being a vampire improves his blood clotting, and even helps his usual symptoms of hemophilia to recede. The commercialization and the profitability of the blood bank become evident for other vampires and for others in the blood business!

The author, Harry Zelenko, grows orchids in New York City in addition to having a writing career. Well, this crazy little novel can’t compare to Dracula, but then, what can? Read and enjoy them both! Happy Halloween!

Hemophilia: The B Sci-Fi Movie

I love sci-fi as a movie genre, and am a big fan of the 1950s classics (War of the Worlds, The Amazing Colossal Man, The Day the Earth Stood Still), and even the silly B-movies (Plan 9 From Outer Space), right up to 2001: A Space OdysseyAlien (all time greatest) and hey, even Prometheus. I never knew hemophilia was ever mentioned in sci-fi but it has been!

Our esteemed writer Richard Atwood is a sleuth at finding obscure references to hemophilia. And he found one in an old sci-fi film–with some prominent cast members.

The film is the 1966 Planet of Blood (a.k.a. Queen of Blood) and is about a space-vampire who is a queen on her planet. But her spaceship is in trouble; so Dr. Farrady (starring Basil Rathbone) at the International Institute of Space Technology sends two rescue teams of American astronauts (played by Dennis Hopper, Judi Meredith, and John Saxon) travel from the Moon to Mars in 1990 to search for unidentified aliens in distress.

The astronauts locate only one mute, green-skinned, female alien (Florence Marly) in a red-bodysuit, with platinum blood hair, picked up from the Martian satellite Phobos. The alien must live on human plasma, which leads to the deaths of two astronauts who were hypnotized first, while the crew return to Earth. She has a secret plot to overrun the Earth by laying as many eggs as possible on the rescue ship that recovers her from her crashed interstellar spaceship.

Disdaining human food, however, the alien queen needs human blood to survive. She hypnotizes male crew members, one by one, and sucks them dry. Ordered not to kill her, the surviving astronauts fear for their lives from the killer in their midst. Spoiler alert!! They accidentally end her life by cutting her skin, and she bleeds to death. Her blood is green.

The crew believe that she is what humans would have become if we had evolved on another planet–hemophiliacs.  This female vampire is labeled a hemophiliac, by the crew, and some sort of royalty. She’s dead, but like a queen bee, she leaves behind her red eggs, with “consequences left to the imagination,” Richard writes.  

Interesting take on interstellar aliens, vampires, and hemophilia!  It’s now a cult movie, and you can order it on Amazon.   

A Love Like Blood

Our colleague Richard Atwood of North Carolina has found yet another interesting literary piece about hemophilia and…. vampires. Why not? Vampires seem to be everywhere in literature and film, and include superheroes and even Abe Lincoln!

A Love Like Blood (by Marcus Sedgwick 2014, New
York, NY: Pegasus Crime. 310 pages) is a novel labeled as crime fiction, and begins with an interesting love story and morphs into a disturbing thriller. 
Richard writes:  In
1944, Dr. Charles Jackson, a newly qualified 25-year-old house officer at
Barts, is called up as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps, Field Hygiene
Section. When Paris is liberated, he visits an antiquities museum at
Saint-Germaine-en-Laye where he stumbles upon a man in a bunker drinking blood
from a woman. Stunned into inaction by either fear or curiosity, Charles merely
turns and leaves. After the war, he takes a specialism and returns to Cambridge
as a 31-year-old consultant in haematology. In 1951 while attending an
international conference in Paris to read a paper on leukemia, Charles spots
the man in the bunker dining with a beautiful woman in her early 20s. With a
bit of sleuthing, he discovers the man’s
name to be Margrave Anton Verovkin, an exiled Estonian count, and the woman to
be Marian Fisher, an American PhD student at the Sorbonne. Marian is
researching for her dissertation how blood is used in Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
Charles falls in love with Marian and invites her to visit Cambridge over
Easter. In Paris that June, Charles finds Marian to be paler and ill, and he
warns her of Verovkin being dangerous. By August, Charles is told that Marian
has returned to America for a heart operation. Charles then focuses on his
haemophilia research in Cambridge. His small research unit investigates
improved plasma products to help haemophiliacs, if not find a cure. Charles
marries Sarah, who then tragically dies. In 1961, Charles receives a letter
from Mrs. Fisher in New York stating that Marian had died in 1951 in Paris
where she is buried, and hinting that Marian had loved Charles. Following scant
clues, Charles travels to Paris to learn of Marian’s brutal murder, and then to Avignon to discover Verovkin
conducting a blood-drinking religious ceremony. Verovkin’s followers abduct and beat up Charles before the French
police send him home. Charles inquires into clinical vampirism, or blood
drinking. An invitation to visit Professor Enzio Mazzarino in Rome to discuss
his haemophilia research turns out to be a ruse, but Charles encounters an
underage prostitute. Charles returns to London to be with his dying father and
the police raid his house to find planted photographs of Charles with the
prostitute. Fired from his job and fleeing the police for paedophilia, Charles
takes his inheritance and hides in Scotland. Studying clinical vampirism,
specifically the psychologically disturbed and their relationship to blood,
Charles becomes more paranoid. He accidentally kills a private detective, who
he hired to find Verovkin, when the detective instead stalks Charles. Hiding in
London, Charles learns more of the perversions and taboos of blood. When the
newspapers report that Giovanna Scozzo, an Italian female haemophiliac, will be
treated at the Swiss Haemophilia Clinic in Lausanne due to the generosity of a
rich Swiss philanthropist, Charles, without a passport in 1964, makes his way
to Switzerland. The abducted Giovanna is the bait for Charles, who is also
abducted to Verovkin’s
chateau in Yugoslavia. Imprisoned there, Charles is forced to drink blood to
survive. By cutting off his thumb, Charles escapes his wrist shackle and burns
down the chateau. Still wanting to avenge the murder of Marian, Charles
searches three years for the scarred Verovkin, finally finding him in Italy in
1968. Charles cuts Verovkin’s
neck with a knife to kill him, eerily realizing his personal desire for blood.
“I’ve chased him for over twenty years, and across countless miles, and though often I was running, there have been many times when I could do nothing but sit and wait. Now I am only desperate for it to be finished.”
The budding
romance of a hematologist specializing in hemophilia and a beautiful woman
never reaches fruition, yet the protagonist seeks revenge for the murder of his
unfulfilled love, using his hefty inheritance to fund his obsession. The novel
lists numerous minutiae about blood. Hemophilia is not necessary for the plot,
but it adds more substance and the appropriate name for the love of blood.
Oxford is strangely attributed with the use of snake venom as a treatment of
hemophilia in 1961 (it was the 1930s), and more appropriately for the
identification of additional clotting factors at that time (pp. 99, 155). This
is the first adult novel by the prolific award-winning author of young adult
fiction.   

When Hemophilia Prevents Vampirism*

I love reading books, and have already hit my target for 35 books this year. History, nonfiction, biography, exploration and rock bands seem to attract me the most. I hope to cram in about two more before the year is out. One I may try is Mari Mancusi’s Blood Ties: A Blood Coven
Vampire Novel. 

Our friend and colleague Richard Atwood sent me a synopsis and commentary on this “young adult” book, which includes a main character who has hemophilia. That fascinates me and makes me want to read it.  I can easily accept the fantasy part (vampires and fairies) but have a hard time when someone mangles the science. I mean, science is science.  Here’s the rather convoluted plot:
Sunshine McDonald, or Sunny, a teenager
with a freckled nose and long dirty blond hair, is enrolled in Las Vegas High School.
Her formal name is Princess Sunshine of the Sidhe Light Court of Tir na nOg.
Sunny is the royal daughter of Queen Shrinking Violet. Sunny has wings and can
fly because she is a full-blooded fairy. She also has a twin sister named
Rayne with black hair.  
Rayne, the only known vampiric fae in existence, wants to be a vampire
slayer and recently attended a two-week vampire 12-step rehab program. (You gotta love that) Sunny was bitten by a vampire – she turned into one for six days due to
mistaken identity with her sister and then became mortal again, or was cured,
after drinking blood, whose antibodies help the human cells, from the Holy
Grail in England. There she met Lord Magnus, Master of the Blood
Coven. Sunny loves Jayden, a mortal with green eyes and black hair who earlier
saved her life. Jayden has hemophilia. (How does that relate to the plot? I’m sure I don’t know!)
Jayden is bitten by a vampire, and to save him, Sunny
allows herself to be bitten again (who is doing all this biting?) to provide blood for the first time. Jayden is ill. Lord Magnus explains Jayden’s
condition to Sunny: “He’s stable now,” he replies. “But I don’t know for how long. I don’t know if it’s because of the manner in
which he was bitten or his hemophiliac blood disorder—but his human cells aren’t properly bonding with the vampire ones. Meaning he’s not really a vampire. But he’s not really human either.” Maybe hemophilia interferes with turning into a vampire?
 Jayden needs
transfusions for his vampirism (not for his hemophilia). Sunny provides more of her blood using a syringe and blood bag (sadly Sunny did not follow universal safety precautions!), but the
cure for Jayden is to drink from the Holy Grail. The trio set off to England
but the Holy Grail is stolen and taken to Tokyo for the
impending war with the vampire Consortium. In Tokyo Sunny rescues her
abducted twin sister and prevents the war between the vampire factions. Good job, Sunny. Before the Holy Grail is blown up in the Japanese temple
by the Consortium vampires, Sunny transfers to Jayden some of its blood by
kissing him, thus curing him of being a vampire. Sunny asks Jayden how he is
feeling once they return to Las Vegas: “One
hundred percent,” he says,
looking slightly bashful. “Except
for the fact that somehow in the transition my hemophilia went away.” What?!
Richard writes: This description of hemophilia is just as unrealistic and
unbelievable as the rest of the story, but that will not deter its popularity
with teen readers as they somehow relate to a romantic fairy princess who kicks butt. The YA novel is part of on-going series about
these vampire and fairy characters, including the character with hemophilia.
The Emmy Award winning author and television producer lives in Austin, Texas
with her husband.
And I’d like to know: does Mancusi know anyone in Texas with hemophilia? Who’s the real life model for Jayden? Inquiring minds want to know. I’m pretty sure Mancusi didn’t read my book on hemophilia, which has no section on vampires. 
Maybe a good stocking stuffer for your young adult reader with hemophilia? Blood Ties: A Blood Coven Vampire Novel by Mari Mancusi, 2011, New York, NY: Berkley Books. 231 pages.
*Just kidding folks. Hemophilia does not protect against vampirism! Buy yourselves some garlic. 
Great Book I Just Read
The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A fable developed during the real-life crash in the desert of Saint-Expury’s plane, this story has become a beloved classic. The little Prince is a visitor from another planet who appears in the desert, keeps the aviator company until he is rescued, and dispenses worldy wisdom with simple observations and visits to other planets, each small and occupied by only one person or animal. Lessons include:  to think outside the box, look at the world and its people with your heart, and my favorite, “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed”.  Five/five stars. 

Blood: From Vitalism to Vampires

Halloween has passed, and though it’s fun to see our friends’
and family’s children dressed in costumes on Facebook, there are plenty of
“shock” photos circulating on the internet of dummies smeared with blood—one
even prompted a 911 distress call, so realistic was it. Halloween conjures up
images of Friday the 13th movie characters as well as vampires.
Transfusion: Now that’s scary
Our business in hemophilia is blood. Blood at once attracts and horrifies; it is the stuff of legends
and tales, myths and medicine. I recently read the classic Dracula [read the book review below] and was amused to read how Dr.
Van Helsing wanted to help the young Lucy, a victim of a vampire, by giving her
a transfusion of blood. “Is it you or me?” he asks Dr. John Steward, about who will roll up their sleeve to donate; Steward who
replies, “I am younger and stronger, Professor. It must be me.”
Steward offered his blood based on the concept of vitalism, that blood contains the traits
of the being in which it flowed—a concept that was unchallenged for fifteen
hundred years. Later in the book, Van Helsing says to Lucy’s fiancé Arthur, “John was to give
his blood, as he is the more young and strong than me…. But now you are here,
you are more good than us, old or young, who toil much in the world of thought.
Our nerves are not so calm and our blood so bright than yours!”
Not so picky: Any old blood will do
So Arthur becomes the better blood donor because he is calm and not scholarly! Of course, this is nonsense, but author Bram Stoker fell for the widespread belief in vitalism when he wrote his book. Dracula isn’t so picky; he pretty much would drink anyone’s blood.
Douglas Starr tells us in his book Blood that the Egyptians saw blood as the carrier of the vital
human spirit, and would bathe in it to restore themselves. Roman gladiators
were said to have drunk the blood of their opponents to ingest their strength. “Our
own culture attaches great value to blood, with the blood of Christ as among
the holiest sacraments, blood libel as the most insidious slander, the blood-drinking
vampire as the most odious demon.”*
Vampires… which are repelled by
garlic and crucifixes (the two seemingly have nothing to do with one another).
Yet rather than secure eternal spiritual life by consuming wine that has been
transformed into Christ’s blood during Christian mass, Dracula drinks human
blood to extend his physical life. 
The only thing scarier than vampires is the
proliferation of teen movies about vampires!
*Starr, Douglas (2012-09-05). Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce (Kindle Locations
97-101). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
Great Book I Just Read
Dracula  [Kindle]
By Bram Stoker
I haven’t read this book since high school, and forgot how
wonderful and visionary it is. A classic, as it has spawned an entire genre of
books and movies. Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer, is summoned to Castle
Dracula in Transylvania to finalize a real estate transaction with the eerie Count
Dracula, who is purchasing property in London. Harker is warned by local
peasants, who give him crucifixes and other charms against evil. As a guest,
Harker soon notices strange things: the Count has no reflection, is never
present in daylight, and scales the castle walls downward, like a lizard.
Unable to escape, Harker is soon a prisoner, until the Count reaches London,
with 50 boxes of earth. The novel is told only through letters and diary entries
of the main characters, including: Harker’s fiancée, Mina Murray; her friend
Lucy Westenra, who is bitten by Dracula and slowly turns into a vampire; Dr.
John Seward, Lucy’s doctor and once beau. Harker reappears in Budapest and eventually
returns to London. Dr. Van Helsing, an expert on vampires, is called in from
Holland to help save Lucy. Everyone realizes Dracula’s scheme to populate
London with the “Undead”—vampires. When Mina is bitten, and begins to turn into
a vampire, the men sterilize the boxes of earth, set about London. Dracula,
having no haven to stay when dawn comes, flees back to Transylvania, while the
men pursue him. This is a fantastic story, though the language is not lofty or
even that clever, with memorable characters, and cleverly told in letters and
diaries. Perfect Halloween reading. Five/five stars.

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