Did you know if you get 10 blood transfusions (in your lifetime) that you are at risk for iron overload?
No? I didn't either.
What is iron overload?
Healthy red blood cells usually live 120 days, damaged (sickled) cells live less. People with sickle cell or Thalassemia sometimes need to get a blood transfussion.
When we receive a blood transfusion we get more "hemoglobin", which helps our blood carry more oxygen. This is one reason we feel better after a getting a transfusion.
The blood in the transfusion also puts iron in our body. Over time, this iron builds up and our body has no way to get rid of it. It does not eliminate iron like other waste. This is Iron Overload (IO).
We can still have anemia AND have too much iron.
Too much iron can build up in our body (after 10 or more transfusions), even if a long time has passed between transfusions. (I DIDN'T KNOW THIS)
Iron Overload (IO) can lead to serious health problems, both now and later. Too much iron in your body can: (1) weaken your immune system, (2) cause sexual dysfunction or infertility, (3) heart failure (4) Liver damage (cancer), and (5) Diabetes.
Find out more information on Iron Overload (IO) and what actions you can take to be transfusion smart.