Four Words to a Miracle

May 29, 2015
Jonathan Blank


1 in every 50 Ashkenazi Jewish couples are at high risk (25% chance) of conceiving a child affected with a tragic genetic disease, such as Tay Sachs or Cystic Fibrosis. That’s right, 1 in every 50 couples. A 25% chance.

My wife and I are in that “1” group. We are both genetic carriers of the same disease. Thing is, we never knew. Nor did we have reason to know — genetic carriers of these diseases don’t show symptoms. The diseases are silent, until they manifest in a baby.

Knowing is easy. For $99 (with health insurance) and a spit, JScreen does preconception testing for prospective parents, testing for over 80 genetic diseases (many doctors test for only four). The geneticists at Emory University’s Human Genetics Department then explain the results and help at risk couples understand how they can have healthy children unaffected by the genetic disease.

Unfortunately, too many young Jewish couples don’t know about JScreen and genetic testing. My wife and I are a perfect example. No one told us. Not our rabbi, not our doctor, not our friends or family.

“Get a genetic test.”

Those four words from you to friends and family are a mitzvah and possibly a miracle. Just think of the good you’ve done if the person you tell turns out to be in the “1” group. Think of the miracle you’ve done with just four words.

That’s why I joined the advisory board of JScreen. To tell people to “get a genetic test.” To do a mitzvah. To create miracles.

Headquartered in Atlanta at Emory University’s Department of Human Genetics, JScreen is a national non-profit offering at-home comprehensive and affordable genetic testing and counseling.

ReproGEN – determines risk for having a child with a genetic disease

CancerGEN – tests for genetic changes that increase risk for many types of cancer

If a person or couples’ risk is elevated, genetic counselors will privately address the results, options and resources to help plan for a healthy future.

JScreen believes that a combination of education, access to state-of-the-art testing technology, and personalized support by qualified medical professionals are key to preventing devastating genetic diseases.