by Patrick Dunn, International Pemphigus and Pemphigoid Foundation
As many in the rare disease community know, one of the biggest challenges facing an organization focused on supporting patients is raising awareness. We build networks of support and information, but how do we reach people suffering through symptoms of a disease they don’t know exists? How do we ensure that medical professionals are knowledgeable about these diseases so that patients receive correct diagnoses?
For the International Pemphigus & Pemphigoid Foundation (IPPF), these questions are the basis of a new Awareness Campaign. The goal of this campaign is to reduce both the amount of time patients spend searching for a diagnosis and the number of healthcare providers patients see before receiving that diagnosis.
Before members of Congress pack up and go home for the holidays in December, there’s one important thing they need to do: Complete the reauthorization of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act.
At the start of this Congressional year, reauthorization of this very successful legislation appeared to be a slam-dunk. The value of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act has been well documented.
Both the House and Senate passed reauthorization bills with little fanfare. But now the legislation has become stalled in the Senate, and it is not at all certain that the impasse will be resolved before the end of this Congressional season.
To leave this critically important matter in limbo would be a disservice to all Americans … and, in particular, to the rare disease community.
The Monaco family’s story illustrates why newborn screening is important. In 2001, son Stephen went to bed one evening a lively and precocious toddler. By morning, he was in medical crisis, his life forever compromised by a “silent” disease that no one knew he had.
Stephen’s sister, Caroline, leads a normal, active life today as a result of newborn screening that made possible proactive measures to protect her. In addition to the tragic loss of Stephen’s ability to fulfill his early promise, this story also has an economic component. Stephen will need a lifetime of sophisticated medical care, whereas a major part of Caroline’s treatment is simply a modified diet.
On behalf of all the Stephens and Carolines in this world, NORD is inviting everyone to join us in letting Congress know that newborn screening is important to us. We have sent a letter to Congress signed by more than 70 organizations and rare disease medical experts.
In addition, our policy team has drafted an email that you can easily personalize and send to your Congressional representatives today. Please consider joining us in this important effort.
The diagnosis of primary myelofibrosis (MF), one of three main myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), came as a huge surprise for Bill Erickson in May 2012. According to the MPN Research Foundation, patients with MF have scar tissue buildup in their bone marrow, which prevents normal blood cells from being produced. Since blood cell production is so poor in the bone marrow, the body tries to compensate by moving the process over to the spleen. For Bill, the news that his spleen had already enlarged to twice its normal size was alarming, to say the least. read more >
In 1992, Antje Hjerpe was diagnosed with a rare blood disease known as “essential thrombocythemia” or ET. A review of previous lab records showed that she had been living with this disease for at least six years prior to diagnosis. read more >
When given the opportunity to dispense certain products, services, privileges, or other benefits that can be spread around, many of us feel an impulse to do the most good possible for the most people possible. This seems only natural, maybe even right, until you consider the adverse effects this approach can impose on people who are not among “the most”—people with rare diseases, for example. Acting on this impulse in biomedical research and health care services, then, would result in allocating resources to diseases that affect much larger numbers of people in preference to rare diseases. read more >
RareDisease Dialog is the official blog for the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). NORD’s staff and friends will share information of interest to the entire rare disease community.
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