Thursday, May 22, 2014

Genetic Haemochromatosis: The Silent Killer

Genetic Hemochromatosis (GH) is a hereditary disorder causing the body to retain the trace mineral iron over and above its requirements. Without iron we couldn’t survive – its instrumental in the transportation of oxygen around the body; but too much iron kill. As the body cannot expel excess iron, it deposits it around our organs — mainly in the liver, pancreas, heart, endocrine glands, and joints, where it turns into a poison.

The subject is close to my heart, having been diagnosed with Genetic Hemochromatosis 10 years ago. I decided to write a humorous spoof thriller to increase awareness, raise funds and bring humor; I believe laughter is the best medicine. ‘The Unexpected Consequences of Iron Overload,’ is a paranormal, romantic, spoof thriller, with 100% of profits being donated to the Hemochromatosis Society.

Jimmy has absorbed iron and is now magnet. After a significant event in which he saves Barbara, the woman of his dreams, from possible death Jimmy realises he can control his magnetism. His life is further complicated after coming to the attention of the KBG - they are interested in all things paranormal, and the CIA who are determined to stop the Russians. Sheila further complicates life for Jimmy. Her father is Irish though she was born in Australia. Unbeknownst to her she has Haemochromatosis and is magnetic but of course, from the Southern hemisphere her polarity is reversed. 

For a disorder that few have heard of, it is surprisingly common. In Europe an estimated one in 200 have the genes linked to it — that’s 3.7 million people.  The Hemochromatosis Society — a charity founded and chaired by Janet Fernau, MBE says “people are suffering from entirely preventable diseases and even facing premature death because of a lack of awareness and testing.” 

Left untreated, this insidious condition causes individuals to develop life-threatening illnesses like diabetes, liver cirrhosis, cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.  The treatment is simple and cheap. The only way to remove iron from the body is via the blood - venesection.  Every pint removed takes with it 200mg of iron and lowers ferritin levels by 25 as the body starts to use the excess stored iron to make new red blood cells.

Hemochromatosis Society - – has as host of resources for people who have the condition.

The preface to The Unexpected Consequences of iron overload is a good layman’s introduction to the subject. In addition, a list of worldwide support groups/resources are included in my book.


At age 52 James Minter was diagnosis with hemochromatosis. He is one of the lucky ones: he found out in time, and has no long-term organ damage. Researching the condition, he discovered there are millions of people who are carriers or have the disorder. The majority are unaware. The opportunity to stop unnecessary suffering is great. As a fiction writer in the humor genre, James wanted to use his creativity to bring hemochromatosis to the fore. He wrote The Unexpected Consequences of Iron Overload.  This is a light-hearted paranormal, romantic, spoof thriller with a serious message. Using the book he spends much of his time raising awareness of hemochromatosis via social media, blogging, presentations, press releases and radio interviews.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I never heard of this. Thank you for sharing.