Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is a genetic disorder of iron metabolism that may lead to iron overload. Clinical penetrance is low, however those afflicted may develop cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, diabetes mellitus, and cardiomyopathy. Treatment of HH involves regular phlebotomy to reduce the systemic iron burden. In many countries—including the United States—numerous blood centers do not accept donated blood obtained from HH patients during therapeutic phlebotomy and there are inconsistent positions regarding this globally. This refusal of blood is borne out of a few concerns. First, there is a theoretical increase in the infectious risk of these blood products, particularly by siderophilic organisms such as Yersinia enterocolitica. Second, given the increased incidence of hepatitis C infection from nonvoluntary donors in the 1970s, there is a concern that blood units from HH donors may harbor additional risk given the nonvoluntary nature of their presentation. In this review, we examine the existing biological and clinical data concerning infectious risk and summarize clinical experience from centers allowing HH donors, and demonstrate that blood from HH patients is safe and should be allowed into the donor pool. We conclude that there is no convincing evidence to exclude this population from serving as blood donors. (Hepatology 2018;67:1150–1157).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1150-1157
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


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