NIH Blood Bank

Hemochromatosis Donor Program

Hemochromatosis is a relatively common inherited condition in which the body absorbs excess iron. Over many years, iron overload can develop, with deposition of excess iron in body tissues and organs. Disabling arthritis, glandular failure, and severe liver disease can occur if the disorder is not treated. The treatment is phlebotomy therapy, or removal of 1 unit (1 pint) of blood every 1 - 16 weeks, depending on the level of iron overload. One pint of blood contains 250 mg of iron. Serial frequent phlebotomy sessions are a highly effective way to lower body iron levels. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Blood Bank has a protocol for treatment of hemochromatosis by phlebotomy therapy, which uses a simple and easy method to determine the pace of therapy.

The blood units removed therapeutically may be made available for transfusion into others if the donor (the hemochromatosis subject) meets standard blood donor eligibility criteria. Phlebotomy therapy and medical care for hemochromatosis are offered free of charge to all study participants. All persons with hemochromatosis are eligible for participation in this study, regardless of whether they meet blood donor criteria. To learn more about the Hemochromatosis Donor Program or to make an appointment to enroll, call the Hemochromatosis Program Coordinator at (301) 435-3049.

Hemochromatosis patients participating in the NIH Blood Bank Hemochromatosis Donor Program may donate:

To learn more about hemochromatosis, please visit the NIH Informational site on hemochromatosis.

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This page last updated on 10/18/2023

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