On February 20th, 2013, Eliza and John Rista of Huntersville, North Carolina were blessed with an uncomplicated pregnancy, and a healthy, full-term baby boy weighing 8 pounds and 6 ounces. “Around midnight on the day of my son’s birth, my husband and I were alone in our room taking turns holding our baby and marveling at how he could be so incredibly perfect, beautiful, and special,” Eliza reflects.
They were blissfully unaware that in a few hours, their baby would be fighting for his life in the neonatal intensive care unit. He was given oxygen, then a ventilator and nitric oxide, and finally extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) before all options were exhausted. “After twelve of the most terrifying and beautiful days of our lives, Johnny was gently handed to us, wrapped in a blue blanket knitted by his grandmother, and we lovingly held him in our arms as he went to heaven peacefully.”
What could have compromised the life of a healthy baby boy so suddenly and unexpectedly? A microscopic lung disease, called alveolar capillary dysplasia (ACD). This rare genetic disorder is characterized by a malformation of the air-blood diffusion barrier in the newborn lung, and is often associated with a misalignment of pulmonary veins. This abnormal barrier causes developmental problems in the infant’s pulmonary vasculature and heart, leading to a lack of oxygen (hypoxemia).
This is most commonly a result of one of two general types of genetic abnormalities, the first being a mutation on the FOXF1 gene on chromosome 16, and the second being a deletion in the areas of chromosome 16 that regulate the expression of the FOXF1 gene. ACD is extremely difficult to diagnose, as it’s only confirmed through biopsy or autopsy, and perhaps in part because of that, there have been less than 400 recognized cases since 1948. Almost every case leads to an infant fatality. read more >
Leleah Robinson, NORD’s Special Assistant to the Vice President of Public Policy, recently attended the FDA public workshops. This blog provides her insight into that event.
In July 2012, President Obama signed into law the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) which requires the FDA to hold at least one public meeting to “encourage and accelerate the development of new therapies for pediatric rare diseases”. read more >
NORD recently posted the following question on its Facebook page: How long did it take you or a loved one to get an accurate diagnosis?
We were stunned at the response. Within the first few hours, we got 200 replies and 20% of those who responded had waited 10 years or longer to get an accurate diagnosis. read more >
In my previous blog post, I referred to the borders that people with rare diseases may confront when their illnesses have led them to another place, even if that other place is not literal but figurative. Though these borders may not have substance, they still function as barriers both to care and to opportunities to participate in the ordinary activities that life offers. read more >
I love my job, but the best part of my job is connecting rare disease patients. 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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