Rare Diseases Are Not So Rare

Some have famous fundraising events attached to them, like the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS or the many walks, runs, and telethons for diseases ranging from Cystic Fibrosis to Muscular Dystrophy. Other conditions, like Wilson’s Disease – a rare condition in which excess copper builds up in the body — are virtually unknown except to the friends and family of those living with the disease. Collectively, there are 7,000 distinct rare diseases, which, according to the advocacy group Global Genes, affect up to 400 million people globally. About half of those diagnosed with a rare disease are children.

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Moving the Needle for Rare Diseases

Each year, we designate the last day in February as Rare Disease Day to raise awareness about the potential impact we can make for this important segment of the world’s population. From policy makers to researchers to health authorities, we all play a part in making a difference for more than an estimated 300 million people in the world suffering from a rare disease.

To mark the event, I would like to reflect on my role to move the needle and make a difference to patients that are awaiting life-changing treatment. My journey started as a clinician where I had the privilege in caring for patients with a variety of rare diseases. At a personal level, I am also the aunt of a very special boy who suffered for 8 years with a rare cardiopulmonary disease. To me, rare diseases are not so rare.  Continue reading