What is hereditary hemochromatosis?
People normally absorb only as much iron as they need from their daily diet. Hereditary hemochromatosis is a genetic disease that disrupts normal iron absorption. People with hereditary hemochromatosis accumulate too much iron from their diet. This extra iron accumulates in body organs such as the liver, heart and pancreas. Over time, people with hereditary hemochromatosis may develop cirrhosis, liver cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, hypothyroidism, and impotence. If iron overload is untreated, it can be fatal.
How is hereditary hemochromatosis treated?
Fortunately, treatment is very simple. It consists of periodic whole blood or double red cell phlebotomy to remove excess iron.
Phlebotomy for hereditary hemochromatosis not only benefits the individual patient, but the blood drawn can be used for patients in need of transfusion if the person with hemochromatosis meets all of the other criteria applied to all blood donors for the blood to be used. No fee will be charged for the phlebotomy even if the patient does not meet the criteria. If the patient does not meet these acceptable criteria the blood would be discarded.
How to enroll
The frequency of the phlebotomies for each patient is determined by their physician based on the patient's iron levels and medical status. The Hemochromatosis Phlebotomy Program Referral Form must be completed in its entirety by your physician. Once we have received it, we will contact the patient to arrange for phlebotomies. Phlebotomies are performed at selected New York Blood Center donation sites throughout the greater New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.
If you have questions, please call our department of Special Donors and Community Health Services at 800-688-0900.