Researchers and family hope to learn more about genetic blood disorders

Hollar Family// Photo provided

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are learning more about genetic blood disorders that can lead to serious health concerns.

They use mice with genetic defects to understand how blood clots happen in humans.

A large part of their research focuses on how proteins are involved in clot formation and clot dissolution.

That research could be crucial in understanding more about a number of diseases -- including strokes, pulmonary embolisms, and cancer.

For one family, this research is one way to remember their son, brother, and husband. But now it's also important for their own survival.

By all accounts, Brad Hollar was a healthy, hard-working and loving young man.

"He was just one amazing guy that everybody loved,” said Dana Hollar, with Bradley 5 Charitable Fund.

But in February 2013, Hollar passed away unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism.

"The shock of the emergency room doctor coming out and telling you that your 26-year-old son has passed away was just unbelievably devastating,” Dana said.

It wasn't until weeks later that his family found out he had a genetic blood disorder called Factor Five Leiden.

In some cases it causes people to form life-threatening blood clots in vessels.

At the university's Keck Center scientists are pursuing research that could prevent deaths like Brad Hollar's.

"When you cut yourself you want to be able to form a clot. You don't want that clotting process to continue unregulated or else you'll have a problem,” said Keck Center Associate Director, Victoria Ploplis. "You don't want something to be clotting intravascularly unless you need that clot to be forming.”

Brad's father Dana is making it his mission to educate others about blood disorders and raise money to help researchers find a cure for a genetic condition that still affects his family. Factor Five Leiden can be passed from generation to generation.

"I just want to make sure that we can do to not let it happen again one of my family members,” he said.

That's the ultimate goal for scientists at the Keck Center for Transgene Research. They hope to create a drug that can target a clot.

While they are working toward that, experts suggest you get tested and get regular checkups with your doctor. They suggest you do this even if you are a healthy person, especially if you intend to get married and have kids.

The disorder doesn't always show signs. You can have it and still appear a very healthy person. It usually shows itself when there is some big injury.

"Some pregnancies for instance may induce a clot formation that can't be resolved because of the Five Leiden problem," said Ploplis.

"Just the awareness and preparedness before something would happen it's – he saved probably many lives and generations to come because of his death,” Dana said.

The Bradley 5 Charitable Fund is hosting a golf outing at McCormick Creek Golf Course in Nappanee next Friday, September 8.

The registration deadline is Friday September 1. Teams can sign-up by calling the course at (574) 773-2725, or by calling Dana Hollar at (574) 354-1088.

Limited spots are available, but if you don't get a spot they still encourage you to come learn more about Notre Dame's research and make a donation toward their goal.

All proceeds go directly to blood clotting disorder research at W. M. Keck Center, as well as local scholarship programs.

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