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 HEMOCHROMATOSIS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








 

  

What is it?

An Overview:

Hemochromatosis (HHC) is a genetic disorder.  Individuals with hemochromatosis absorb too much iron, which can result in toxic levels of iron in tissues of major organs.  Undiagnosed and untreated HHC can develop into major diseases such as diabetes, heart trouble, arthritis, liver disease, neurological problems, and more.

There are many symptoms, the most common of which include chronic fatigue, arthritic pain in joints, loss of libido or impotence, abdominal pain, and shortness of breath.

People at risk include males of northern European descent, those with a family history of premature death by heart attack, liver disease, diabetes, and arthritis, and post-menopausal women with the same ancestry and family history listed above.

It is estimated that 1 in 200 people either has the disease or is a carrier for it.

Blood Banking and Patient Treatment:

The most effective way to decrease the amount of iron in the body is to remove red blood cells that naturally contain large amounts of iron.  People with HHC will often need regular phlebotomies to remove the excess of iron.

This is often done in a doctor's office or at a blood center.  In the past, the blood was collected and then destroyed.  Because of a change in guidelines by the Food and Drug Administration, the Blood Center of New Jersey may now test and process these donations and, in many cases, use the blood for transfusions to patients in need.

This is a win-win situation.  It is a rare instance when the treatment for one disease will save the life of someone with another disease.

Hemochromatosis Questions and Answers

Links to other Hemochromatosis Information


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