20th June 2015 7:30pm

As a keen photographer and a very visual person I like to capture and record significant moments in a photograph whenever I can. Sometimes they are funny and quirky, sometimes they are darker. This one has not been shared before and has moved through two phone upgrades and three phones but I knew I would use it at some point and now feels right.

It is a photo that makes me shudder still now but it’s also an important reminder of what this condition can do. For Micheal Francis it was a fairly quick but very unpleasant death that was 73 years in the making thanks to this genetic, silent killer.

Taken less than 12 hours before his death and just as he had muttered to my Mum that he loved her, it was an awful yet touching moment that I will never forget. I will look at this picture when I am suffering half way up a mountain in France and know that my pain is nothing compared to what he would have experienced in his final days.

Haemochromatosis, or GH (genetic haemochromatosis), is a genetic disorder causing the body to absorb an excessive amount of iron from the diet.

You will also come across the term hereditary haemochromatosis and may come across the US spelling as hemochromatosis, without the ‘a’. The meanings are the same.

As a result of the genetic condition, iron can build up in the body to toxic levels. This is termed iron overload and is potentially very damaging. Iron is deposited in various organs – mainly the liver, but also the pancreas, heart, endocrine glands, and joints and cause cancers. Caught early it can be managed and cause no significant issues, left to its own devices it can and it will kill you.

Early diagnosis is key and raising the profile of it is really important – if you do nothing else please share this so more people become aware, and if you can afford to, please click on the Just Giving link below and donate a few pounds. Thank you so much.

For more information on the condition please visit The Haemochromatosis Society.

The Haemochromatosis Society
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