Most of us do not think about blood very often, much less donating blood. But for one family here in Southwest Louisiana it is a matter of life and death every day. 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 2,500 people in Louisiana alone have this disorder and two of the most severe cases documented are cousins right here in Lake Charles. “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.
My family would like to thank the generous residents of Southwest Louisiana who give the gift of life, without you my family could not survive,” Doc Hanks, Lake Charles, La. resident with HHT and coordinator for the HHT Foundation.
Give the Gift of Life--Donate blood on: Friday, June 1 from 11-4 at Walmart in Sulphur and Saturday, June 16 from 11-4 at The Prien Lake Mall
Go to LifeShare.org or call 337-436-4932 to schedule a blood donation or for more information go to HHT.org