Vice Chairman of Blackpool Group John Turpin was amongst the honoured guests attending the inaugural meeting of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Haemochromatosis Support Group at South Shore Tennis Club in Blackpool. Joining John and other distinguished Freemasons were Gordon Marsden MP for Blackpool South and Paul Maynard MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Chairman of the National Haemochromatosis Society Howard Don, Consultant Physician Dr Peter Isaacs and a number of the nursing staff from the Gastroenterology Department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Haemochromatosis (pronounced hēmo-kro-mah-tosis) is an inherited disorder in which iron levels in the body gradually accumulate over many years and can trigger symptoms such as extreme fatigue, severe joint pain, diabetes, erectile dysfunction in men and absence of periods in women, liver disease and heart failure. It is sometimes referred to as iron overload disorder.
Haemochromatosis is an inherited condition caused by a faulty gene called HFE (High Iron Fe) that allows a person to absorb too much iron from food. Normally, the body only absorbs as much iron as it needs but in sufferers of haemochromatosis, the excess iron starts building up in the body and causing problems. If left untreated, the extra iron accumulates in the body, usually in organs such as the heart and liver. The condition is most common among those of Northern European ancestry, particularly those of Celtic descent. Currently, there is no cure but with early detection and treatment by regular and routine blood removal, patients can respond reasonably well to treatment.
Steve Smith of Symphony Lodge No 4924, whose wife Marguerite is a sufferer, is secretary of the newly formed support group and was on hand at the meeting to provide an introduction and explanation of the problems encountered with the condition. Over 50 attendees listened to very informative talks from Steve and other speakers that included Nick Milne, chairman of the newly formed group, Howard Don, Dr Peter Isaacs of Blackpool Victoria Hospital and Joanne Leeman of the NHS Blood and Transplant Service.
Peter Smith of Fraternal Lodge No 4531 is the public relations officer for the group and he was delighted with the attendance, anticipating that it can only go from strength to strength as more people become aware of the problems encountered with haemochromatosis, adding that it offers support throughout an area covering Lancaster, Morecambe and South Cumbria as well as Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre.
A number of Masonic lodges have been keen supporters of the group and the proceeds from the annual Blackpool Group sponsored walk are donated to the cause. Further details about the support group and haemochromatosis in general can be found on;- www.haemochromatosisblackpool.org.uk.