[Skip to Navigation]
October 1986

Hemochromatosis: Treatment to Alleviate Injury

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine Veterans Administration Medical Center 50 Irving St NW Washington, DC 20422

Arch Intern Med. 1986;146(10):1910-1911. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360220054009

The treatment of hemochromatosis by repeated phlebotomy has everything to commend it. It is specific, harmless, and inexpensive. It is logical: the removal from the body of a rapidly regenerating, iron-rich tissue, blood, drains iron from the ironsodden organs where the unmanageable excess has been stored away. There is no excretory channel for unneeded iron; the patient with hemochromatosis who absorbs too much is stuck with it. Logical as phlebotomy therapy may be, we took a long time to put two and two together, try it, and learn how to use it. Since the early 18th century we have known that the blood iron resides in hemoglobin.1 Hemochromatosis was discovered in 1865, and it was soon perceived that the blood pigment (hemochrome) deposited in the injured organs is iron.2 Yet, not until 1942, was phlebotomy therapy proposed by Balfour et al,3 specifically by Paul Hahn, PhD, who

Add or change institution