‘We know how important it is to know your gene. We’ve lived it.’
It took more than seven years to get a genetic diagnosis for our daughter. During that time, doctors were pretty sure she had LCA, although we also heard that maybe she had cone-rod dystrophy or perhaps Stargardt’s Syndrome. We argued with insurance over genetic testing, paid out-of-pocket, took time off work and school for trips out of state and sent blood work all over. Still, no one could give us a genetic diagnosis. Some labs never even bothered to return phone calls to tell us if they had any results.
And then things changed. More genes had been identified and there were new and better ways of genetically diagnosing IRDs. Finally, in 2013, I we received a confirmed diagnosis for Sofia.
Flash forward another five years to today and there are even more changes. While many aspects of obtaining a genetic diagnosis are still challenging, thanks to continued research, increased awareness, and accessible testing programs, it’s no longer a seven-year ordeal. Patients can get tested today without incurring travel expense and are much more likely to receive a confirmed genetic diagnosis.
Thanks to donations to our organization, we have been able to support accessible genetic testing for families. Thanks to our donors and supporters, we are also able to provide outreach and education to families, driving awareness and access for genetic testing and encouraging participation in natural history studies and patient registries.
Our awareness campaign this year is Know Your Gene: Get Tested, Get Connected. Knowledge is power and we are helping more families get tested so they can receive their genetic diagnosis and then connect in ways that will accelerate research for treatments and cures for IRDs. We want to stress the importance of connecting to a patient registry or a genetic counselor. We want to help families and individuals find each other for support and sharing of information. And we are driving those programs and communications that will continue to advance cures for blindness.
We know how important it is to know your gene. We’ve lived it.