Sunday 26 May 2019

Councillor reveals struggles living with genetic disease

About one in every 150 people may have haemochromatosis

Cllr Malcolm Byrne
Cllr Malcolm Byrne

Sara Gahan

A local councillor has spoken out about his struggles living with haemochromatosis to help raise awareness of the genetic disease and encourage others to go get regular health check-ups.

Cllr Malcolm Byrne was diagnosed almost two years ago with haemochromatosis, a disease that is caused by iron overload in the body.

'It means that I have a difficulty absorbing iron in my bloodstream and the iron can build up,' said Cllr Byrne. 'The reason that I am speaking out about it is that many people get the diagnosis too late in life and by that stage, the iron build up has been significant and may have caused damage.'

Iron build up can cause sluggishness and tiredness, but if left untreated, can contribute to arthritis and cause damage to the liver and to the heart.

'In my case, I try to go for an annual health check-up and that is how I was diagnosed with the disorder,' said Cllr Byrne. 'Before my diagnosis, I had been feeling a little tired but put that down to simply being busy with work and other activities.'

It is a condition, once managed, can have a minimal impact on a persons life. About one in every 150 people may have haemochromatosis and it is far more common in men than in women.

'There are also much higher instances of it in Ireland than elsewhere,' added Cllr Byrne.

Because Cllr Byrne was diagnosed early in life it makes it easier for him to manage. He said all of the staff at the Palms Surgery on the Avenue have been great in helping to manage the condition.

'It requires me to have a phlebotomy and blood letting every so often and that reduces my iron levels,' said Cllr Byrne.

Gorey Guardian