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Hereditary Hemochromatosis


Hereditary Hemochromatosis is a common inherited disorder of iron metabolism causing an excessive amount of iron to be absorbed from the diet. If untreated, the abnormal absorption leads to high levels of iron in the body which can cause heart and liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, shortness of breath and loss of libido or impotence. This condition is treated over a period of time by removing red blood cells (which contain iron) through a process called therapeutic phlebotomy.

Since Hereditary Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder and not an infection, it cannot be passed on through a blood transfusion. Previous regulatory standards would not allow blood drawn from patients with Hereditary Hemochromatosis to be used for patient use. However, our regulatory agencies (such as the FDA) have issued a new guidance allowing patients with Hereditary Hemochromatosis to be volunteer donors. This means that each patient will now be screened for eligibility as a volunteer donor, so your blood may be transfused. As of 8/30/2004 here at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, all therapeutic phlebotomies on Hereditary Hemochromatosis will be performed without charge, regardless of eligibility.

The ALPS Blood Center has dramatically changed their scheduling services and practices. If you have been a previous patient with the Blood Center you will no longer call the Blood Center to schedule your appointment. All patients/donors are to contact the Adventist Hinsdale Hospital Central Scheduling department at 630-856-7070. You will need the following information to schedule your appointment:

1. When asked what department you need to make your appointment with, respond “the Blood Center”.

2. Reason for your appointment: you will respond “for therapeutic phlebotomy”.

3. You will then be asked for your diagnosis. It is crucial that you know your diagnosis (Hereditary Hemochromatosis) as there are other types of disease processes requiring therapeutic phlebotomy.

4. Do you have an MD order? All patients MUST have a current written or standing order on file when scheduling an appointment. If you are a new patient, you must have a written order or have it faxed prior to making your appointment to the Blood Center department at fax # 630-856-7888.

5. For additional lab tests your physician may order, it is necessary that you register so your insurance company can be billed. Tests such as a Ferritin level, Metabolic Panel or any other additional lab tests may be drawn during your therapeutic phlebotomy procedure, per your doctor’s order. However, you must inform the Central Scheduling department when you make your appointment of the additional lab tests or they may not be drawn.

6. Patients with a confirmed diagnosis of Hereditary Hemochromatosis will not be billed for the therapeutic phlebotomy. However, if your doctor orders any additional lab tests such as: Ferritin, Iron Saturation, CBC, Chemistry, Total Iron Binding Capacity, etc, your insurance will be billed

Once, in the Blood Center the process begins with a private interview or screening which will include a health history questionnaire, vital signs and blood test. The actual donation takes only 5-10 minutes followed by light refreshments and a few minutes to rest prior to your release. We do recommend that if this is your first visit to have a friend or family member accompany you. The entire process of donating blood takes approximately 30 minutes.