Friday, March 11, 2011

Jewish Genetic Testing Returns to Omaha in May - Free of Charge!


From: Greater Omaha Committee for Jewish Genetic Testing

Contact: Joanie Jacobson  812 North 66 Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68132



Jewish Genetic Testing Returns to Omaha in May - Free of Charge!

By Joanie Jacobson

FACT: Jewish genetic diseases are devastating, debilitating and fatal.

FACT: Children rarely live to become adults.

FACT: One out of five adults are carriers of at least one Jewish genetic disease.

FACT: If both parents carry the same gene, the child has a 1 out of 4 chance

of being born with a Jewish genetic disease, and a 2 out of 4 chance of being

a “carrier.”


FACT: Jewish genetic diseases can be prevented through Jewish genetic testing.

In 2004, Jean Duitch, whose grandson had been diagnosed with Canavan Disease,

decided to bring Jewish genetic testing to the forefront of the Omaha-area community.

With a handful of volunteers, she established the Greater Omaha Committee for Jewish

Genetic Testing. Boys' Town National Research Hospital signed on as the Committee's

medical partner and the Jewish Federation of Omaha served as community partner.

The goal was to provide information, testing, and genetic counseling to 100 individuals

in Omaha, Council Bluffs, Lincoln, Sioux City and Des Moines, 18 years of age or older,

free of charge.


An Informational Forum, featuring a panel of physicians, genetic

counselors and Mrs. Duitch, was held at the Jewish Community Center a month prior to

testing. The result: 107 individuals of Ashkenazi decent were successfully tested, and

25% were found to be carriers of at least one Jewish genetic disease -- slightly higher

than the national average of 1 out of 5.


An Informational Forum will be held on Monday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. at the

Jewish Community Center. Once again, physicians and genetic counselors from

UNMC will be on hand to present the case for testing and take questions from the

audience. Attendees will also be able to register for either of the May testing dates.

diseases themselves, the prognosis, the treatment, care, and prevention, you will

understand what's at stake, and testing will become a priority.”


“Round #2: Jewish Genetic Testing” is planned for Sunday, May 22 and

Wednesday, May 25, at the Jewish Community Center. This year, the University of

Nebraska Medical Center is the Committee's medical partner, and the Federation is,

again, the community partner. Med Center professionals will conduct the blood draw

and provide genetic counseling. Blood samples will be sent to the Jacobi Medical

Center Laboratory in New York to be tested. Those individuals identified as carriers will

be personally contacted by a genetic counselor from the Med Center, and counseling

will be offered free of charge.


“Round #2” will test for the following Jewish Genetic diseases: Tay-Sachs, Canavan

disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Niemann-Pick disease, Familial Dysautonomia, Gaucher

disease, Mucolipidosis IV, Bloom Syndrome, and Fanconi Anemia.


“The target audience is not only young Jewish singles and couples,” noted Duitch.

People of all ages, all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds need to be tested.

Jewish genetic diseases, including Tay Sachs and Cystic Fibrosis, have been

increasingly diagnosed in children with non-Jewish parents, making it just as important

for inter-faith couples to be tested.


“Parents and grandparents of 20- and 30-year olds were also tested in 2004. Those

who were found to be carriers could then inform their grown children and grandchildren

of the necessity for them to be tested.


“Knowledge is power,” Duitch concluded. “Identifying carriers allows individuals the

opportunity to make informed and rational decisions regarding the future of their family

-- to be proactive rather than having to be reactive. Testing can save families the

unnecessary heartache and despair when a child or grandchild is born with a Jewish

genetic disease. It can provide the comfort and assuredness every couple deserves

when starting their family.”


To register or for more information on “Round #2: Jewish Genetic Testing,” contact Jean

Duitch (402-393-1141 or or Joanie Jacobson (402-554-0500 or