Many people let a nosebleed go unnoticed, but for many it is an indication of a life-threatening disease. Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia or HHT is a genetic disorder that causes abnormalities of blood vessels. Most blood vessels in the body of someone with HHT are normal. However, a small percentage of the blood vessels in a person with HHT have a specific type of abnormality.
A person with HHT has a tendency to form blood vessels that lack the capillaries between an artery and vein. This means that arterial blood under high pressure flows directly into a vein without first having to squeeze through the very small capillaries. This place where an artery is connected directly to a vein tends to be a fragile site that can rupture and result in bleeding. This disorder is passed from generation to generation and without proper diagnosis and treatment can be fatal. The most commonly affected organs are the nose, lungs, GI tract, brain and spine. While symptoms can be mild, the most severe cases require regular blood transfusions.
Approximately 1 in 5,000 people have this disorder. Without the volunteers who sacrifice a few minutes of their time and a little bit of themselves to donate blood, patients with this uncommon disorder would not survive. Doc Hanks, representative for the HHT Foundation, explains, “Nine out of 10 people go undiagnosed. If nosebleeds are common, you have fatigue, or notice purple spots – like broken blood vessels on your skin – you should see a doctor who is knowledgeable about HHT. There are screenings available that can help prevent severe complications, particularly those that affect the lungs and brain.”
Go to www.lifeShare.org or call 337.436.4932 to schedule a blood donation or for more information go to the HHT Foundation web site at HHT.org or contact “Doc” Hanks, representative for the HHT Foundation in the state of Louisiana, at email@example.com