DR. E. WALKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR. E. WALKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Damaged pancreas. Gross specimen of a pancreas damaged by haemochromatosis, a genetic disorder that leads to excessive amounts of iron accumulating in body tissues. Tissues that can be affected include the pancreas, liver, skin and brain. Excess iron in the pancreas damages insulin-producing cells and causes diabetes mellitus. Treatment is with venesection, the regular removal of blood, which also removes some iron, making the body use stored iron to produce red blood cells. This is carried out every week for about 2 years, after which iron levels should return to normal. Maintenance venesection is then needed 3 to 4 times a year.
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