Wednesday, 30 March 2016

On a mission to warn of common 'Celtic Curse' blood condition

Thanks to the Wigan Evening Post.
Genetic Haemochromatosis (GH) is an inherited disorder which causes the body to absorb too much iron from our diet. GH is sometimes called The Celtic Curse, because of the fact that it is more prevalent in the Celtic countries. The gene flaws can be traced back to the Vikings.

Excess iron gradually accumulates, usually in the liver, joints, heart, pancreas and other endocrine glands, causing serious tissue damage.

GH is one of the most common genetic disorders. Surveys have shown that as many as 1 in 200 people could be at risk of developing iron overload.

Simple and effective treatment is available, but if excess iron is not removed irreversible damage can occur, especially in the liver. Diagnosis can be confirmed by a simple blood test and/or genetic test. Early diagnosis and treatment preserves normal life expectancy and quality of life.

Winstanley Ward representative Cllr Paul Kenny was advised to take the gene test for GH in 2011 following contact with his mother from a distant relative in the USA. This led to a positive result and several months of regular fortnightly venesections where a pint of blood was removed to reduce the iron overload in his blood.

Prior to diagnosis Paul had never heard of the condition despite several aching joints in his fingers which he put down to RSI from working at a keyboard during the working day.

Iron levels are now under control and Cllr Kenny considers himself to be ‘very lucky’. He continues to give blood via donation and receives a regular check-up at The Thomas Linacre Centre where his blood iron levels, Liver and Kidney functions are monitored.

Cllr Paul Kenny said, “Like many people, I put my joint pain in my hands down to RSI as I work in front of a keyboard all day."

"When my Mum got the call from our USA relative, I took the gene test and was found to have GH. Blood tests confirmed my iron levels were high and I immediately began sessions to remove blood and lower the iron levels."

"I now have to give blood once every 12 weeks but the pain in my joints disappeared very quickly and I was soon completely back to myself."

"I feel very lucky to have been diagnosed when I was. It has meant that I have averted serious liver disease and possible heart failure. Because, once you’ve had a diagnosis of haemochromatosis, the treatment is straightforward."

"Through the gene test many of my extended family – aunts, uncles and cousins have also been confirmed as having GH so my advice is that if you have any symptons associated with GH then it is worth getting yourself checked out.”

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