Iron Overload: What To Know Before A Blood Transfusion

blood transfusion donation bagsMany people living with sickle cell disease (SCD) undergo blood transfusions to improve the amount of oxygen-carrying blood cells to vital organs.

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But one complication that SCD patients face post-transfusion is iron overload (hemochromatosis); a condition leading to dangerously high levels of iron in the liver, heart and other organs. If untreated, the built up iron could result in organ failure.

It’s something that can be treated through chelation therapy.

Each blood transfusion brings new levels of iron into the body. The body, however, can’t remove all of this extra iron on its own.

According to Iron Health Alliance, chelation therapy grabs onto and removes the excess iron from the body when a person uses the bathroom. This therapy comes in the form of a tablet once a day or an injection overnight.