Are You 1 in 300?

Posted August 18th, 2010 by webadmin

Guest Blog by Rayne Kuntz

A simple blood test ordered during my annual medical exam recently revealed a serious medical condition my doctor wasn’t even looking for. I have hemochromatosis, Canada’s #1 genetic disorder.

Hemochromatosis is iron overload. My body has no way to naturally expel excess iron, so if untreated, it stores up in my organs and tissues, eventually doing damage, which could lead to premature death.

1 in 300 Canadians is at risk of developing the potentially fatal disorder. The good news: it is easily treatable if discovered early.

I am 42 and in good health. The excess iron doesn’t appear to have done any damage. I consider myself very lucky; a lot of people get the diagnosis when they are already dealing with the ravages of too much iron in their body; they are battling diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and even cancer.

My treatment currently involves weekly phlebotomies. It is similar to a blood donation. It is the only way to get the excess iron out of my body. The specialist handling my care expects it to take about four months for me to get my iron levels to a normal level. After that I should be able to maintain the levels by donating blood a few times a year. My prognosis is a healthy, normal life. I feel like the iron test my family doctor ordered was a gift.

Hemochromatosis is extremely prevalent in people with northern European decent. I urge people to ask their doctors to check their iron levels, especially if they share my ethnic background. Why not find out now; you could avoid needless suffering or even premature death.