THOUSANDS of Scots are being urged to submit to screening for a genetic condition known as the “Celtic Curse” by the family of a woman who died from it.

The family of Miranda McHardy, from Banchory in Aberdeenshire, has been fundraising for free testing kits to be sent to local postcodes.

Their fundraising, supported by Haemochromatosis UK’s Friends Against Iron Overload, has led to 25,000 test kits being supplied by Haemochromatosis UK.

McHardy, mother-of-three and a deputy lieutenant for Aberdeenshire, died last March following a late diagnosis of the condition.

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Genetic haemochromatosis is thought to have evolved when past populations moved to places where meat was scarce.

In Scotland and Ireland it is known as the “Celtic curse”, although it is common throughout northern Europe.

It also occurs at a lower level in southern Europe and is common in Australia and the US.

The condition is twice as likely to be serious in men, and women have partial protection until later in life because they lose iron through menstruation and having children.

Treatment initially involves the regular removal of blood, known as a venesection, and this is usually carried out every few weeks.

The National:

Postcodes AB30 1/AB31 4-5-6/AB39 2-3 and DD10 are eligible to receive testing kits and the charity will get in touch with these households.

Chief executive of Haemochromatosis UK, Neil McClements said: “We were inspired by the McHardy family’s determination to transform their personal tragedy into a better outcome for other people across rural Aberdeenshire.

“We’re working with the whole community to offer free genetic screening for this common, but often undiagnosed treatable condition. Early diagnosis saves lives and diagnosis starts with public awareness.”

After the test has been completed, the charity will send the results to the patient and their NHS GP. They will also be provided with a free 45-minute appointment with a specialist nurse from the charity to discuss what to do next.

Common symptoms of haemochromatosis include:

• Heart problems

• Joint pain, particularly in the first two fingers

• Liver disorders • Skin problems

• Stomach pain or discomfort

• Tiredness, fatigue and weakness