Young Adults René: Community Leader
René knows life with a bleeding disorder. Now he wants to become a hematologist
“I want to be a pediatric hematologist” tends to be the first thing that René Pimentel says when you meet him. René, who is currently a freshman at Miami Dade College’s North Campus, has wanted to be a doctor specializing in bleeding disorders since he was a little boy.
“I want to give back to the community. When I was a boy, it was not always easy for me to understand what the doctor would tell me. I remember thinking: ‘This person does not even have hemophilia, how can he know what’s going on with me?’” His firm passion to help others in his same situation is clear to see. “Because I have hemophilia, I can understand how those children feel in certain situations, and also what their parents are going through. I’m going to help them feel better,” he says.
René has already given back to the community by orienting other young people in his home town and by participating actively in support initiatives throughout his state. And he is qualified to do so, at least in part, thanks to the support of the Pimentel family: for several generations, the males in the family have been born with hemophilia, and because of this background, they have developed quite a tradition of community participation. However, René’s main advocate has always been his mom.
Miriam Pimentel tries very hard to help her local community. She is well known as a prudent, well-informed woman, who has made a commitment to help educate and support families who have a loved one living with hemophilia. In fact, the entire Pimentel family has become an indispensable part of the community, because René’s father and grandmother have also assumed important roles. Miriam smiles when she describes the many families who call her in search of advice and support.
“We are all well known and very active in the community of people with hemophilia around here. Sometimes people ask me questions as if I were a doctor. And I tell them, ‘I’m not a doctor, I’m just a mother.’ But they insist on calling me with questions such as, ‘Miriam, my son’s head hurts, what can I do?’ They know that I’m always reading and learning about hemophilia because it’s important to know as much as you can. René was raised as a typical child because we are well-informed about hemophilia. I think that is the reason why his self-esteem is so high. He is a young man who is very sure of himself.”
Like many other adolescents, René learned what his abilities and limitations were by testing his limits; in his case, by playing lacrosse* for two years. “The important thing,” says René, “is for one to know one’s limitations. I’ve always wanted to try new things, like playing lacrosse. So I did it for a couple of years and I enjoyed it very much. But that was my limit, and it’s not something I recommend.” René shares his knowledge with the youngest members of the community, who think of him as someone who can give advice and is a role model.
“Educate yourself as best you can. The more you know, the further you will be able to go”
The Pimentels have had to take the initiative to educate those around them about bleeding disorders. When René was still a child, Miriam found a creative and ingenious way of informing school teachers and administrators about her son’s hemophilia. She gathered the information she considered most important and created a manual she would distribute at the start of each school year. According to René, it was a kind of “do-it-yourself hemophilia guide.”
It was important to educate school staff because sometimes it was difficult for René to stay focused on getting a good education. When his joint bleeds forced him to miss school, he found other ways to improve his grades, like relying on private teachers and doing extra projects for credit. His efforts have paid off: René has excellent academic performance. He is an avid reader; it doesn’t matter if it is Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart or Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. He also makes time to play the guitar, have fun with his friends and go to the movies. Regarding the future, René is eager to begin studying to become a pediatric hematologist and make his dreams come true. While he waits for the response to his government college scholarship application, he thinks about the friendships he’s made as a counselor and active member of his community; in other words, the place where he found out what he could achieve and how far he could go.
“I want other [young people] to know that, even if they have hemophilia, they can achieve almost any goal they set for themselves. The other important thing is to get the best education they can. The more they know, the further they will be able to go; that way, there won’t be anything to stop them from achieving success.”
*Note:Not all activities are appropriate for all people with hemophilia. Be sure to consult your physician or treatment center before beginning any exercise program or participating in sporting activities. If an injury occurs, contact your physician or treatment center immediately for the appropriate treatment.