Neoprene wetsuits help boy with hemophilia

Getting in and out of surf spots in Nova Scotia often involves a treacherous journey through ice, snow, crashing waves and slippery, seaweed-covered rocks.

If you’re like me, you’ve no doubt misjudged the grip of one of those greasy rocks and found yourself sprawled out on the shoreline.

Thankfully you were wearing a thick neoprene wetsuit otherwise you’d likely have cuts and bruises to go along with your wounded pride and freshly dinged surfboard.

Michelle Howell and her husband Colin Guthrie are also thankful for the protection provided by neoprene wetsuits, but not for anything related to surfing. Instead, the Ketch Harbour couple are grateful for the neoprene that is protecting there 22-month-old son, Callum Guthrie.

Callum was born with a blood disorder called hemophilia and for him, the everyday bumps and bruises most of us shake off can result dangerous internal bleeding.

In an effort to cut down on the number of nerve-wracking trips to the hospital, Michelle has been using wetsuit neoprene to tailor protective clothing to protect her son.

Michelle has been sewing the neoprene into pants to make kneepads and shirts to make elbowpads, two critical areas for a little fella who, like others his age, is prone to daily wipeouts.

“You can wash it and dry it, and it wears well,” she said.

Michelle resorted to neoprene after she was unable to find anything specifically for children who have hemophilia.

“There’s nothing really on the market,” she said.

But while Callum is happily climbing on things and wiping out, he is getting bigger and is growing out of his tricked-out clothes. His mom has been donating his old neoprene duds to the IWK Health Centre for other children with hemophilia, however, she is running low on neoprene to make new clothing.

“I have very little right now,” she said.

Besides making more clothing for her son, Michelle would also like to tailor clothing which she can send to other clinics and families across the country. In order to do so, she would welcome donations of old neoprene wetsuits from the local surf community.

“I’ll take whatever I can get,” she said.

To make a donation, please email Michelle at


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