Mum Donates Kidney to Save Her Son’s Life

Marie Stephenson was found to be the closest match for toddler John, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder when he was just five weeks old.

Both Marie and John have now fully recovered from the ordeal and are leading healthy lives.

Marie, 33, said John seemed perfectly normal when he was born at home in Over Kellet.

She said: “He looked a healthy new born, but as the weeks passed we noticed he was a very unsettled baby and we decided to take him to hospital when he was five weeks old as he seemed very puffy and his skin was mottled.

“We were bathing him one night and his tummy button popped out filled with fluid.”

Doctors initially thought John was suffering from malnutrition, but the next day tests showed he had congenital nephrotic syndrome, which meant he would need an early kidney transplant and had a 50 per cent chance of survival.

As a result of the condition, John’s kidneys were leaking protein known as albumin, along with a few other key blood components.

The tot lost eight-and-a-half ounces overnight from fluid being drained from his tiny body, dropping to below his birth weight.

John was transferred to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where the condition is so rare they see just one child every 18 months with it.

During his stay, the family was filmed by Channel 5 for a TV programme on life at the hospital, which will be screened this Christmas.

At nine months life became more normal for the family after parents Marie and Mike, 38, were trained to carry out John’s treatment at home.

However, at 19 months old John’s kidneys started to fail and by the time he was two-and-a-half he was on dialysis.

In January this year, both of John’s kidneys were removed.

Tests showed that Marie was the best match, and on July 24 a transplant took place in Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Marie said: “We have never looked back. It has changed our lives forever.

“John stayed in hospital for seven days but bounced back really quickly, and I went back to work two weeks later.”

John, who goes to Hornby nursery, is on anti-rejection drugs for the immediate future and will be checked every two months, but otherwise can live a normal life.

Marie said: “He is just amazing, he has so much energy now.”

The family is now aiming to raise money for the Kidneys for Life charity through an open day at 315 Gym, where both John and his sister Lexi, four, go swimming with the Piranhas Swim School.

The open day, complete with a duck race and bouncy castles and sponsored by Morecambe FC, is on Sunday, September 28 from 11am.

Piranhas have also elected Kidneys for Life as their 2014/2015 charity.

Marie, said: “John’s care cost £28,000 so we are hoping to raise that amount over a series of events.”

Source: Lancaster Guardian

Beckwith-Wiedeman Syndrome. Heartfelt appeal for help

AN IRISH family has issued a heartfelt appeal for help in getting their eight-month-old son to the US so his rare genetic condition can be treated.

Noah Drake-Brennan was born with Beckwith-Wiedeman Syndrome (BWS) and his parents, Emma and Philip, hope a €30,000 surgery in a specialist Missouri hospital will help transform his life.

BWS was originally known as EMG-Gigantism given that those born with the syndrome suffered from over-sized physical features. These can range from over-sized organs to limbs.


The syndrome is a genetic disorder and Noah was born with an over-sized tongue.

The danger for the little Carrigaline, Co Cork boy is that his tongue poses the risk of blocking his airways. Noah was born 10 weeks premature and had to be placed on a respirator for his first three months.

“Surgery will eliminate this [breathing] risk and allow us all to sleep peacefully for the first time since he was born,” Emma explained.

“As a baby he would regularly stop breathing in his sleep which is a terrifying situation for any parent.”

The Missouri surgery will see Noah’s tongue reduced in size.

The surgery has to be carried out while Noah is young to prevent any possibility of facial or jaw distortion. Children who do not have the surgery completed in their first 18 months have problems with jaw distortion and can even have their teeth gradually pushed out of place.

In some extreme cases, the children’s speech is even affected by the size of their tongue.

Once Noah has recovered from the procedure he should be able to feed himself. Emma and Philip and their friends have already raised €15,000 towards the cost of the surgery but need another €15,000.

The couple are now in a race against time because the surgeon who specialises in the procedure is due to retire and Noah’s case is one of the last he is scheduled to handle.

The little Cork boy’s surgery is provisionally scheduled for October 25.

“Noah is such a happy and easy-going baby – we hope and pray that Noah will be able to achieve the same things as other children in spite of his condition,” Emma added.

The couple have set up the Baby Noah Trust with full details on their Facebook site.

Donations can be made to BNT at AIB Carrigaline, Cork A/C No 18162083 and Sort Code 93-43-13.

Source: Herald

Ebola: what you need to know

Updated by on July 29, 2014, 9:00 a.m. ET from Vox Media

The deadliest Ebola outbreak in recorded history is happening right now. The outbreak is unprecedented both in infection numbers and in geographic scope. And so far, it’s been a long battle that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

The current outbreak has killed 672 people and infected about 1,200

The Ebola virus has now hit four countries: Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and recently Nigeria, according to the country’s ministry of health.

The virus — which starts off with flu-like symptoms and often ends with horrific hemorrhaging — has infected 1,201 people and killed an estimated 672 since this winter, according to the numbers on July 23 from the World Health Organization.

Ebola is both rare and very deadly. Since the first outbreak in 1976, Ebola viruses have infected thousands of people and killed roughly 60 percent of them. Symptoms can come on very quickly and kill fast:

Journalist David Quammen put it well in a recent New York Times op-ed: “Ebola is more inimical to humans than perhaps any known virus on Earth, except rabies and HIV-1. And it does its damage much faster than either.”

So why is Ebola doing so much damage right now? Here’s a primer on what’s going on.

Why is Ebola back in the news?

Ebola tends to come and go over time.

The viruses are constantly circulating in animals, most likely bats. Every once in a while, the disease spills over into humans, often when someone handles or eats undercooked or raw meat from a diseased ape, monkey, or bat. An outbreak can then happen for several months. And then it becomes quiet again.

Ebola can completely disappear from humans for years at a time. For example, there were zero recorded cases of Ebola in 2005 or 2006.

The current outbreak has been going on since late 2013 or early 2014 and has been getting extra attention in the news recently as several doctors have caught the disease, including a Liberian doctor (who died) and Sierra Leone’s top Ebola doctor (who is undergoing treatment).

Where is the current Ebola outbreak?

The current outbreak started in Guinea sometime in late 2013 or early 2014. It has since spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia, including some major capital cities. And one infected patient traveled to Nigeria on a plane, according to the Nigerian Ministry of Health.

Why is this particular outbreak so deadly?

For starters, this outbreak concerns the most deadly of the five Ebola viruses, Zaire ebolavirus, which has killed 79 percent of the people it has infected in previous outbreaks. (The virus is called that after the formerly named Zaire, which, along with Sudan, experienced the first Ebola outbreak back in 1976.)

There are also social and political factors contributing to the current disaster. Because this is the first major Ebola outbreak in West Africa, many of the region’s health workers didn’t have experience or training in how to protect themselves or care for patients with this disease.

What’s more, an NPR story suggests that people in these countries tend to travel more than those in Central Africa (where outbreaks usually occur). That may have helped the virus disperse geographically, and it made it difficult to track down people who might be infected.

Meanwhile, as an editorial in the medical journal Lancet noted, social stigmas and a lack of awareness may lead people to not seek medical care (or even avoid it). Another often-cited problem is that some people have had direct contact with victims’ dead bodies during funerals and preparations for burial, which can spread the disease.

In many ways, how well a country deals with Ebola comes down to basic health care and public education

Some people are afraid that medical workers are causing Ebola, and workers “have been threatened with knives, stones and machetes, their vehicles sometimes surrounded by hostile mobs,” according to the New York Times.

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders has noted 12 villages in Guinea that might have Ebola but aren’t safe for workers. In Sierra Leone, a protest against a clinic led to the police using tear gas. And a World Health Organization assessment in Liberia noted problems with tracing patients’ contacts with other people, “persisting denial and resistance in the community,” and issues with “inadequate” measures used to prevent and control infections, weak data management, and “weak leadership and coordination,” according to a statement released on July 19.

In many ways, how well a country can deal with an Ebola outbreak comes down to basic health-care practices and public education. With enough resources poured into the effort, people should be able to contain this outbreak. So far, however, these countries are really struggling.

Does Ebola really make people bleed from their eyes?

Yes. Bleeding from orifices is one of the more unusual and memorable symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola. In later stages of the disease, some people bleed from the eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and rectum. They may also bleed from puncture sites if they’ve had an IV.

External bleeding can be one of the main symptoms that can help people realize they’re dealing with a case of Ebola, since other signs — first fevers and headache, then vomiting and diarrhea — can be caused by any number of illnesses. Internal bleeding can happen, as well.

But it doesn’t always happen. For example, this study of a 1995 outbreak in found external bleeding in 41 percent of cases. And bleeding didn’t correlate with who survived and who didn’t.

What actually kills people is shock from multiple organ failure, including problems with the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

Symptoms come on abruptly after an incubation period of 2 to 21 days. And people generally die between day 6 and 16 of the illness.

Why is Ebola so deadly?

One of the main things that seems to make Ebola viruses especially deadly is that they seem to be able to evade much of the human immune system. Among other problems, white blood cells from the immune system are often seen to die off in patients. And if the body can’t fight fully back, the virus can just keep taking over.

Scientists are still figuring out exactly how this happens, and they have several promising leads. One is that the virus is making proteins that act as decoys, interfering with the body’s ability to fight back.

How hard is it to catch Ebola?

Ebola is relatively hard to catch compared to some other viruses like measles, SARS, or the flu because it doesn’t like to hang out in the air.

In order to contract Ebola, someone must touch the blood or bodily fluids (including sweat, urine, and semen) of a person or animal who’s infected (alive or dead). People can also catch it through indirect contact with victims’ fluids, such as via bedding or medical equipment.

People generally aren’t infectious until they get sick.

Ebola’s limited transmission ability is one of the main reasons why outbreaks can often be stopped within weeks or months. What it takes is public education and good health-care hygiene like isolating patients, sterilization procedures, and the use of gloves, masks, and other protective gear.

What are the chances of Ebola spreading to the US?

The Ebola viruses known today don’t spread from person-to-person well enough to have much risk of causing a wide pandemic across several continents. The risk of Ebola coming to the US is still very low.

And if a case did appear in the USA, it “would not pose a major public health risk” Michael Osterholm, biosecurity expert and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota told USA Today. Why? Because it would be quickly tracked down and controlled.

How do you treat Ebola?

Patients are treated for symptoms, including IV fluids for dehydration. It’s important to remember that some people do survive an Ebola infection.

Hopefully, in the future there will be more options. For example, researchers are working to find drugs, including a recent $50 million push at the National Institutes of Health. And scientists are working on vaccines, including looking into ones that might be able to help wild chimpanzees, which are also susceptible to the disease.

Update: Removed a statement that Ebola cannot be caught from a cough or sneeze.


author: Susannah Locke, Vox Media

Patient Advocacy Summit: What Will You Learn? Register Now.

What if you could learn EVERYTHING you needed to know about being a patient advocate in just two days? What if you could learn how to be prepared, proactive, and productive in your efforts to better the lives of those with rare disease? What if you could be an advocate with the know-how to lobby congress and effect change? What if you felt you really had the ability to reach out to the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world—and form a powerful relationship to bring drugs to patients now?

This is what over 200 participants will be learning in-person, and over 5,000 via Livestream during the Global Gene’s 2014 RARE Patient Advocacy Summit, September 11-12, at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in beautiful Huntington Beach, CA.

Will you join us?

During our third annual summit this coming September, participants can expect more tools, experts, and exploration than ever before.

“Everything has changed,” says Nicole Boice, Founder and President of Global Genes. “Our feedback from the last few years has been positive, but what we now understand is how much more depth our audience wants and needs on topics related to their rare disease journey—and we’re determined and ready to give them that.”

This year’s sessions, lead by an extraordinary team of experts include modules on Caregiving: Strategies for Staying Afloat, the E-Patient Revolution, Patient-Centered Benefit-Risk Assessment, making your organization an “Unstoppable Charity,” Lobbying at the State and Federal Level, and Transition & Transformation with Rare Disease from Adolescence to Adulthood.

Our 2014 summit will now includes “Deep Dives” or branched off discussions that will allow small groups to interact with industry leaders to help them go more deeply into the content of each session.

“There will be more freedom to learn, to ask questions and to take our time really cracking open the heart of some of these difficult topics like collaboration in drug development, lobbying for change and structuring non-profits to meet their ultimate potential, ” Nicole continues.

Also new this year will be the inclusion of Science Briefs – 15 minute science pitches with 5 minutes of Q&A, discussing some of the most promising Innovations in Science. Progressive science driven organizations will have a chance to present their new approaches to research and drug development, that are vital to members of the rare disease community. This will give rare disease non-profits and patient advocates that are involved in funding research a first look at some of the innovators working to bring drugs to market more quickly for those in the fight against rare disease. A few of this year’s presenters include Project Violet – Seattle based non-profit, Immusoft, and Bay Area Biotech.

Can’t attend in person? Our new Livestream component will allow up to 5,000 interested advocates from around the globe to attend virtually via their home. The event will be broadcast live with opportunities for patients to participate from afar using social media such as twitter and Facebook.

This year’s exclusive content is presented in partnership with:

Health 2.0 | Health 2.0 has introduced over 500 technology companies to the world stage, hosted more than 15,000 attendees at our conferences and code-a-thons, awarded over $6,759,000 in prizes through our developer challenge program and inspired the formation of 70 new chapters in cities around the globe. Health 2.0 promotes, showcases and catalyzes new technologies in health care. We do this through a worldwide series of conferences, code-a-thons, prize challenges, and more. We also have the leading market intelligence on new health technology companies. |

Smart Patients | Smart Patients is an online community where patients and caregivers learn from each other about treatments, clinical trials, the latest science, and how it all fits into the context of their experience. Smart Patients believe patients are the most underutilized resource in healthcare. They have watched patients become experts in their conditions — and they see that their knowledge improves the care they receive. With the right tools, you and other patients can do the same. |

FasterCures | FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, is an action tank driven by a singular goal — to save lives by speeding up and improving the medical research system. To do this, the organization must save time in the way they search for discoveries, turn discoveries in therapies and bring therapies to patients. Fastercures objectively figures out what’s working and what isn’t in the research ecosystem, and share that knowledge so that every sector – and every patient – can benefit. |

We would also like to thank our generous sponsors including:

Pfizer| Pfizer works to apply science and their global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. They strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products for those with rare diseases. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with their responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, Pfizer collaborates with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on them.

Walgreens | There’s a way to lend a hand – and since Walgreens was founded in 1901, the company and its employees have recognized the connection between strong communities and good business. Walgreens ( vision is to be the first choice for health and daily living for everyone in America, and beyond. Each day, Walgreens provides more than 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. The company operates 8,217 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Shire | There’s a simple purpose that sits at the heart of Shire’s business: to enable people with life-altering conditions to lead better lives.  This means a focus on developing treatments for conditions where the impact of their medicines can make an immediate and tangible difference for patients.  Shire Pharmaceuticals provides treatments in Neuroscience, Rare Diseases, Gastrointestinal, and Internal Medicine.  This might be a therapy to treat an extremely rare and life-threatening disease like Hunter syndrome or Fabry disease; or a medicine for a specialist condition like ADHD or ulcerative colitis which if not treated effectively, can dramatically affect the lives of the patient and their whole family. Their two strategic priorities are to drive optimum performance of their existing products, enabling access to these medicines for patients today; and building their pipeline through research and development (R&D) and business development (BD), delivering access in the future for patients.

Alexion | Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and delivering life-transforming therapies for patients with severe and life-threatening rare diseases. Patients with these devastating diseases often have no effective treatment options, and they and their families suffer with little hope. Alexion’s global headquarters and research operations are located in Cheshire, Conn. Alexion’s more than 1,900 employees serve patients in nearly 50 countries. They are planning to move our global headquarters to New Haven, CT in 2015.

To view the full schedule of events click here.

To register to attend the summit, in person, click here.

To register to attend the summit virtually, through Livestream, click here.


published: July 10, 2014 by



2014 Tribute of Champions of Hope Honorees

Global Genes™  is proud to present the 2014 Rare Champions of Hope Honorees.
Our Rare Champions of Hope Honorees are being recognized because of their unwavering commitment to rare disease. They have been instrumental in investing heavily in new treatments, and handled patients with care and respect. Some helped to show the beauty of genetic variety, while others brought the rare community into the mainstream spotlight.
Please join us in September to help honor these incredible champions for rare disease. 

2014 Champions of Hope Honorees

RARE Champion of Hope – Industry Trailblazer

  • Moncef Slaoui PhD, Chairman, Global Research & Development and Vaccines GlaxoSmithKline

RARE Champions of Hope – Collaborations in Science

  • David Altshuler MD & PhD, Chair, Steering Committee Global Alliance for Genomics and Health
  • Peter Goodhand, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Genomics and Health

RARE Champions of Hope – Collaborations in Advocacy

  • Carolyn Levering, President & CEO, The Marfan Foundation
  • Ivelisse Estrada, SVP, Corporate & Community Relations, Univision Communications Inc.
  • Juan Bowen MD, Director, Mayo Clinic, Marfan Clinic
  • Larson Family

RARE Champion of Hope – Public Service

  • David Williams, President and CEO, Make-A-Wish® America

RARE Champion of Hope – Teen Advocacy 

  • Samantha Petersen, Founder, SHIFT Scoliosis

RARE Champion of Hope – Science

  • Katherine Rauen PhD, MD, University of California, Davis, RASopathies

RARE Champion of Hope – Medical Caregiver

  • Chester B. Whitley MD & PhD, Director, PKU Clinic Departments of Pediatrics, and Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology University of Minnesota

RARE Champion of Hope – Medical Caregiver

  • Thomas Carpenter MD and Karl Insogna MD, Yale School of Medicine, X-linked hypophosphatemia (XLH)

RARE Champions of Hope – Advocacy

  • Jill Levy-Fisch, President, Save Babies through Screening Foundation


Kylie’s Story Comes Full Circle

dddddddThe tragic loss of Kylie “Ky” Von Ruden on July 15, 2012, came full circle on June 21, 2014, when James “Jim” Dougherty crossed the finished line of the second annual “Ky’s Run/Walk” with his arms raised high in honor of a young woman he never knew, but whose spirit lives on through him.

Dougherty, age 69, of Rockford, IL., got his second chance at life on July 16, 2012, the day after Kylie, age 17, died as a result of an automobile accident near Chaseburg. Her parents, Bruce and Shirley Von Ruden, signed an organ transplant release at the hospital before Kylie was disconnected from the life-support machines that were keeping her alive and she passed away.

In need of a kidney, Dougherty had been on the organ transplant list for two years and seven months. A retired surgeon, he had done all the research and completed all the health education classes in preparation for life on dialysis. With time running short he was days away from being placed on dialysis when, while visiting friends in Lake Geneva, he got the call that a donor kidney had been located. Within hours, he arrived at the medical center at UW-Madison, and was in the operating room receiving a gift of life from a beautiful stranger, whose tragic loss, became his silver lining.

In 1999, Dougherty was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a cystic genetic kidney disorder, that dates back generations in the Dougherty family. PKD is one of the most common life-threatening

genetic diseases, affecting an estimated 12.5 million people worldwide. It is characterized by the growth of multiple cysts inside the kidneys. The numerous cysts are fluid-filled, resulting in massive enlargement of the kidneys, which eventually shut down the organs over time. The disease can also damage the liver, pancreas and in some rare cases, the heart and brain.

Dougherty was in his 50s when he began developing symptoms of PKD, but was not placed on the transplant list until 2011, when his health began deteriorating and he met the urgency criteria to be placed on the national transplant list. Having “O” positive blood, Dougherty, landed on the longest waiting list for an organ transplant.

“They told me it could take 2.5 years and it was 2 years, 7 months,” Dougherty said.

In an untypical twist, his wife, Jeannine, was actually a transplant match for her husband, but after suffering breast cancer herself years earlier, doctors felt the best option for Jim was to placed on the transplant list.

Within five days of the surgery, Dougherty, was out of the hospital and feeling like a new man. His body accepted Kylie’s kidney and with the right mix of anti-rejection medication the priceless gift he received should last him a lifetime.

Shortly after returning home, Dougherty, received a special letter from the hospital. The letter, although censored for privacy reasons, was from Bruce and Shirley VonRuden, who at the time they agreed to transplant Kylie’s organs had requested to know who the recipient’s of her kidneys, provided there was mutual consent from the receiving party.

In his heart, Dougherty knew his blessing was the result of another person’s loss and he felt compelled to reach out to the family. With pen in hand, he tried to put into words his gratitude and exchanged a few letters with the family, even suggesting the chance to meet them.

Still grieving their tragic loss, the VonRuden’s weren’t ready for a face-to-face meeting early on. The emotional roller coaster they had traveled since Kylie’s death would require more time to heal. The healing process reached the next level last month, when Bruce and Shirley, shook hands and exchanged hugs with Dougherty at a Madison restaurant where they had agreed to meet.

The heartfelt exchange lasted for hours as the Dougherty family learned more about the young woman who gave Jim his second chance at life and the VonRuden family learned more about the man their beloved daughter is living on through.

“It was a very emotional meeting, but filled with love, hope and gratitude. She must have been an amazing woman, because she has an amazing family,” Dougherty said.

To honor Kylie and her family, Jim and Jeannine participated in the second annual “Ky’s Run/Walk” in Chaseburg, on Saturday, June 21. They walked the 3.1 miles and crossed the finish line with pride. The event doubled the population of the community for a single day as Ky’s family, friends, classmates, neighbors and strangers celebrated the life of a young woman, whose short life now lives on through the transplant recipients she has given a second chance at living to.

“It’s like the bookends on the end of a story. No words can ever express how grateful and honored I am to have been the recipient of Kylie’s kidney. I am blessed,” Dougherty said.

Source: Westby Times