Leinster rugby player, Sean O’Brien helps tackle “The Celtic Curse”

Iron overload - too much of a good thing!

Sean Keane

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Sean Keane

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sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

O'Brien helps tackle Haemochromatosis

Irish, Leinster and Carlow rugby star, Sean O'Brien promoting Haemochromatosis National Awareness Day

A campaign to reduce the numbers of people suffering unnecessarily from Haemochromatosis was launched by Leinster rugby player Sean O’Brien.  Also at the launch was Margaret Mullett, Chairperson of Irish Haemochromatosis Association.  Margaret suffers from the genetic condition.  Dr Maurice Manning, Chancellor of the National University of Ireland and a native of Carlow also has the genetic condition and was in attendance.Known as ‘The Celtic Curse’, Ireland has the highest levels of Haemochromatosis in the world.

Haemochromatosis is a genetic disorder where the body absorbs excessive iron from the diet and stores it in the body. The IHA is encouraging people who are suffering from symptoms such as chronic fatigue, joint pain, diabetes, irregular heartbeat, enlarged liver and loss of sex drive to consult their GP.

A simple blood test to check your iron status can confirm or rule out iron overload. The accumulated iron affects the liver, heart, pancreas, endocrine glands and joints, leading to impaired function of these organs and eventually to disease and organ failure. As many as one in 83 Irish people are predisposed to iron overload while one in five are carriers of the gene. The treatment is simple and effective.  It involves the removal of blood and is similar to blood donation. 

Professor Suzanne Norris, Consultant in Hepatology and Gastroenterology at St James’s Hospital has said that ‘ill health from Haemochromatosis and the development of serious complications such as cirrhosis can be prevented by simple treatment. Life expectancy in treated non-cirrhotic patients is normal’.

Early diagnosis is therefore critical and Haemochromatosis is an ideal condition to consider for population screening in Ireland’

The National Awareness Day is Thursday and there will be information stands in a number of shopping centres and hospitals throughout the country. The full list of venues can be viewed on the Haemochromatosis Ireland facebook page.  If you have any concerns about the condition please call the Irish Haemochromatosis Association support group on 01-8735911.