Ban on haemochromatosis blood donors relaxed
Thousands of people with the blood condition haemochromatosis will be able to donate blood for the first time.
The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) announced a two year pilot scheme for patients with the hereditary disorder which causes excess iron to be absorbed from food into the body.
The treatment to remove the iron, usually by taking off pints of blood on a regular basis, is known as phlebotomy or venesection.
The IBTS said it will provide a free phlebotomy service for people with hereditary haemochromatosis, whether or not they are eligible or willing to be blood donors for transfusion purposes.
Dr Ian Franklin, IBTS medical and scientific director, said continuation beyond two years will depend on the success of the pilot in providing cost effective care to people with haemochromatosis at the IBTS.
“For the time being this service will be available in Dublin and later in the year from Cork only,” he said.
“As soon as we can we will extend it to other towns and cities.”
Hereditary haemochromatosis is common in Ireland, with around 40,000 people in Ireland diagnosed with it.
Many who need phlebotomy treatment are fit and well and able to be blood donors.
However if the iron accumulates over years it can lead to debilitating and life-threatening complications including liver cirrhosis, diabetes and heart failure.
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