Searching for a rare disease diagnosis

JillVilesNPRThere’s a great podcast on NPR’s This American Life that I heard recently called “Do These Genes Make Me Look Fatless?” This podcast describes the diagnosis journey of Julie Viles, a wheelchair-bound Iowa mother with almost no muscle mass, who was convinced that she shared a mutation with Olympic sprinter, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep.

Despite the obvious differences between the two (see above picture), Jill saw a similarity that she couldn’t ignore. Says Jill, “It was just unmistakable. It’s like a computer that could analyze a photograph and get a match, and be 100% sure that’s the same shoulder. That’s the same upper arm. I see the same veins. I see them branching this way. You just know. And that’s hard to convey. How could you just know? But I knew we were very likely cut from the same cloth– a very, very, very rare cloth.”

Jill believed that they both had familial partial lipodystrophy (FPL), a disease in which fat is improperly stored, leading to very distinct body types — and often sudden cardiac death in middle age. Many FPL patients never receive the diagnosis that saved Jill and Priscilla’s lives. WeHealth has launched a powerful new social media-driven tool to reach these patients and connect them with life-saving diagnoses and treatments.

Check out our campaign at http://wehealth.co/goals/9/

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