Sleepy truckie gets a wake-up call

Chris Blanchard next to his trucks at the Grafton Blanchard's depot.
Chris Blanchard next to his trucks at the Grafton Blanchard's depot.

TWELVE years ago local truckie Chris Blanchard was having real trouble staying awake at the wheel.

It seemed no matter how many times Chris climbed into his sleeper cab he felt constantly lethargic.

Mr Blanchard was surprised when his doctor diagnosed him with having a genetic disorder.

Hemochromatosis is not a well- known condition, but it is the most common genetic disorder in Australia.

One in 200 people of Caucasian descent suffer from the condition, where the body fails to produce enough proteins to regulate the level of iron in the blood.

Elevated blood-iron levels can have serious consequences for people's health including cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, loss of sex drive and some psychiatric disorders.

President of the Hemochromatosis Association Dr Ben Marris said that the key indicators of the condition include chronic fatigue, generalised joint pain and a family history of liver disease that was not caused by alcohol.

"While there is no known cure, if you are diagnosed early on and regularly give blood to keep your iron levels under control, the disorder need have no effect," Dr Marris said.

For Mr Blanchard a change in diet and lifestyle, combined with regularly giving blood has enabled him to live a full and healthy life.

"It's fine, it's just something that you live with. For me these days it is not really a major thing," Mr Blanchard said.

Topics:  ben marris, chris blanchard, health, hemochromatosis



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