UK Healthcare, the northwest based provider of personal and corporate health cash plans, has provided support for the Haemochromatosis Society in a bid to raise awareness of a little known yet serious condition.
Genetic Haemochromatosis, or simply GH, is a genetic disorder which causes the body to absorb too much iron from the diet. This iron is then deposited in various organs, particularly in the liver. The result, if untreated, can cause cancer and death.
Yet, despite the severity of the condition, the average person knows little about it. The Haemochromatosis Society works tirelessly to increase awareness of the condition in the medical community and the wider world.
With early diagnosis the condition is treatable. Yet GH is rarely considered as a possible diagnosis when a patient first consults a GP. Bernard McGrath, the chairman of the North West Support group of the Haemochromatosis Society, believes that this is because the disorder is considered far rarer than it actually is. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses and disabilities .
He said: “GH is now recognised as being one of the most common genetic disorders, but we are still working tirelessly to educate people in the northwest about the problem.
“Recent surveys of people of Northern European origin show that around 1 in every 200 people are at risk of an iron overload. It is our hope, that with greater awareness of the issue, more people will receive an early diagnosis and a better chance of a long and happy life. This would save time and a huge amount of money for the NHS”.
Mr McGrath knows all too well how devastating GH can be after inheriting the disorder genetically from his parents. A prompt diagnosis might have led to a simple course of treatment. Mr McGrath did not discover his condition until it had already led to cancer of the liver.
After a successful liver transplant the northwest resident is still able to champion the GH cause, but other members of his close family were not as fortunate.
He explained: “By the time we discovered that GH was hereditary, it had affected no less than 4 members of my immediate family. My sister in America diedas the necessary tests were not then in place.”
The northwest resident continues to campaign throughout the area to raise awareness and funding for the cause.
The UK Healthcare donation will fund the support group for people living with GH in the North West of England, in addition to funding the group’s ongoing awareness campaign.