Forum Guidelines: 

This site is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional, so please do not use the forum to get guidance on clinical, medical issues.  

Please be courteous and do not use obscenity or engage in personal attacks.  This site is overseen by a moderator, and she may delete a comment or restrict your access to the site.  If you have a question, please feel free to send a message  to us and the Leukodystrophy Family Forum moderator will  respond and provide assistance.   We do reserve the right to remove a posting. 

jctorrey
Oct 19, 2017

Newborn Screening

1 comment

Edited: Oct 20, 2017

I posted this on my blog, www.smilesandducttape.com, this week. My son has ALD and is doing well, but his life is complicated. If only there had been newborn screening twn years ago. . .

 

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an ALD meeting. It was one of the most incredible days of my life. I’ve never been in a room full of people who understand our disease before. They all had stories. Many were parents who had lost their boys. Some, like me, have a son who has suffered and is living a complicated life (some lived through both). And, there were two young men who had been treated early – both in their twenties now and both doing well – exceptionally well. They sat across from me and I couldn’t stop watching them and smiling – they’re the future of our disease.

 

I hate ALD. I hate what it’s done to Jack. I hate what it’s done to our family. I hate that I open my Facebook feed some days and read about another boy suffering from this disease or losing his battle after fighting for years (or months). It’s brutal.

 

The only possibility of getting good outcome with ALD is an early diagnosis. Until recently, the only way to know that you carried the ALD mutation without displaying symptoms, was if you were “lucky” enough to have a family member diagnosed with the dreaded disease. In the case of the two young men I met last week, each had an older brother with ALD. Each of these young men had watched as their older brothers tackled the disease without any treatment. Both of their brothers died – their greatest legacy was saving their sibling.

 

I can’t really imagine what these families went through — caring for and then mourning one son as they moved forward with treating another. And these were early days. They were pioneers in the treatment that is now standard for ALD boys – stem cell transplant (and if you’ve been keeping up with the news about gene therapy, THAT might be changing). Because of their brothers, they were each diagnosed early and monitored yearly. As soon as there was one hint of the disease becoming active, they were treated. Transplants were a new way of treating the disease and their parents moved forward, taking advantage of the only hope possible.

 

Ten years ago we received Jack’s diagnosis. We had never heard the word Adrenoleukodystrophy before that day. We didn’t have the luxury of knowing and watching and preparing. We wasted time with misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis. We watched Jack lose abilities quickly, without knowing what was happening. Finally, just before Jack’s ninth birthday we were given the news and he had his transplant the following month. The transplant worked and it stopped the disease, but Jack’s life is forever tainted by ALD.

 

I’ve found it difficult being part of our community where Jack – with such a complicated life – is a “good outcome”. Most of the people I’ve come to know with ALD have suffered more, lost more, many have died.

 

Meeting Mitch and Jon – they said I could use their names – was incredible. Of corse there was a little voice inside me wishing that our family had had some warning. If we had known that the mutation was lurking in Jack’s DNA, we would have watched him through blood work and MRIs and he would have had a transplant a year or two earlier. It’s more than likely that he would be living a very typical life today had we known. He’d probably be in college now. Maybe he would have joined me last week and he would have hung out with Mitch and Jon sharing stories and laughs (FYI – all ALD boys seem to share an awesome sense of humor).

 

Why am I sharing this? Because there’s no reason for a late diagnosis. It’s possible today to test newborns by including ALD in the newborn screening that is already in place checking for other serious conditions. Several states have passed newborn screening for ALD and many are on their way. I encourage all of you to do your part to make this happen.

 

I’ve known that newborn screening for ALD had potential for saving lives and avoiding suffering, but meeting Mitch and Jon confirmed the success of early diagnosis and gave me hope that the future is bright for our ugly, wicked, crappy disease.

Maria Kefalas
Oct 19, 2017

Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post, please keep sharing your blogs here. We love to hear from you.

New Posts
  • wrwoodar
    Jul 20

    My son will be 3 yo in october and was diagnosed with spastic diplegia/CP about 2 months ago. Peds neuro ordered MRI to look for signs of CP and there turned out to be white matter injury worrisome for metachromatic leukodystrophy. He has always met his milestones aside from gross motor, primarily with balance and unsteady gait when walking. He does not jump or run but he seems to climb well. Fortunately at this point, he has not shown any regression of skills. Genetic tests are pending. If the tests are negative, has anyone ever encountered being told their child has leukodystrophy and it actually turned out to be CP? Thank you for you responses and support and God bless
  • April Garcia
    Jun 3

    I received a phone call 2 weeks ago from the Seating and Mobility Clinic asking if Jackson (our son) needed to make an appointment to have his adaptive stroller refitted. I told the representative that Jackson had Krabbe Disease and that he wasn’t with us anymore, that we had not been able to be with him since October of 2016. The representative apologized and said “I hope he is getting the care he needs” and we ended the call. Once I hung up I realized that due to my brokenness and inability to verbalize exactly where Jackson is I lead the representative to assume due to the Krabbe Disease that we were no longer able or willing to care for Jackson and that he was being cared for by someone else. I immediately called back and luckily got the same representative and explained that Jackson transferred to heaven and even though that information would not change anything within their company that I could not allow any misunderstanding that we ever gave up on Jackson or that we voluntarily let him go. The representative gasped with new understanding and offered heartfelt condolences. I hung up and let loose a silent soul shaking cry for 2 full minutes before returning back to work.
  • Maria Kefalas
    Jul 29, 2018

    Most days, the grueling routine of caring for a child with leukodystrohy takes a toll. But then, there are organizations and people who can make this journey just a little easier by seeing the beauty of kids with leukodystrophy and welcoming families into their home. The Philadelphia Eagles (and the amazing Julie Hirshey, the director of community relations for the Eagles) have been champions for kids with leukodystrophy and the Calliope Joy Foundation from the very start. We are so proud to host our biennial gala in 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field. And, we were thrilled to learn that the Eagles were hosting our friend Kendall, who has metachromatic leukodystrophy, at this year's Eagles training camp. This photo sums up the amazingness that the Eagles make possible for families in our region. We could not be more proud to work with this incredible organization. Thanks to Cindy Williamson for sharing this photo. Yah, that's Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles with our friend Kendall and her mom Cindy and pop-pop Stanley.

Together, We are stronger

© 2017 Leukodystrophy Family Forum . Proudly created by CAZ Media Design