South Florida Hospital News
Thursday December 18, 2014
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October 2007 - Volume 4 - Issue 4

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The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation and Broward General Medical Center Offer Free Genetic Testing and Education Fair to Broward County

Becoming a parent is an exciting prospect. Yet, there are so many unknowns. Will it be a son or a daughter? Will this new life have his blue eyes and her dimples? Above all desires though, parents hope most for a healthy baby. Many assume that by following healthy pregnancy guidelines they can expect a healthy baby. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If both parents are genetic carriers of a fatal children's brain disease, this joyous experience will end in tragedy. The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundations hopes to prevent such tragedies for South Florida couples with a simple blood test.

The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation (MFRF) will hold its Fifth Annual South Florida Genetic Testing and Education Fair for the first time in Broward County on Sunday, October 28th at Broward General Medical Center, 1600 South Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Edward Mullen undergoes a simple blood test administered by lab technician Robin Resnik as part of the South Florida Genetic Testing & Education Fair.

Potential parents will be offered free carrier screening for six fatal children’s genetic brain diseases including Tay-Sachs, Canavan, Cystic Fibrosis, Familial Dysautonomia, Gaucher and Niemann-Pick. Participants will have access to medical experts, genetic counselors and affected families. They will also enjoy a multimedia educational presentation. The tests will be analyzed and evaluated by Genzyme Genetics utilizing its world class genetic testing labs. The results will remain confidential between the participants and their healthcare service providers.

"We are very pleased to be marking the fifth anniversary of the South Florida Genetic Testing and Education Fair by bringing it to Broward County for the first time," said MFRF President Kevin Romer. "Our Foundation is excited about its partnership with Broward General Medical Center, The Broward Board of Rabbis and Genzyme to make it as easy as possible for potential parents to receive this important genetic testing free of charge." Kevin and Lisajane Romer established the foundation in 1998 in honor of their son, Mathew, who died of Tay-Sachs.

Over the past four years, more than 20 percent of those tested were carriers of at least one of these six diseases. Both parents must be carriers for these diseases to manifest. Last year, Miriam and Phillip Blue participated in the foundation's Genetic Testing and Education Fair and learned that Miriam is a carrier of Tay-Sachs and Canavan while Phillip is not a carrier. "I'm very thankful to the Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation for the opportunity to get tested. We would not have been able to afford the testing on our own. My mom is a carrier of Tay-Sachs and now that I know I am a carrier and my husband is not, I am able to think about family planning with peace of mind," said Miriam.


Dr. Neal Weinreb gives an educational presentation on children's genetic diseases of the brain including Tay-Sachs and Canavan.

The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation is able to offer this valuable service through the generous sponsorship by Genzyme Genetics, the Lipson Family, Judy Levis Markhoff, the Broward Board of Rabbis, Baron Delivers and Broward General Medical Center.

"We welcome potential parents to Broward General Medical Center to take advantage of this important genetic testing opportunity," said Joseph F. Scott, CEO of Broward General Medical Center. "Our mission is to provide the finest health and wellness initiatives to our community, and this free genetic testing program in partnership with The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation is another opportunity for us to reach out and make a difference in the health of others."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued opinions stating that potential parents of Ashkenazi Jewish (Eastern European) descent should be offered carrier screening for Tay-Sachs, Canavan, Cystic Fibrosis and Familial Dysautonomia. Additional groups at risk include Hispanics, Haitians, Irish Americans, French Canadians, Cajuns, Asians, South Africans and those of British and Middle Eastern descent according to Genzyme Genetics and MFRF's network of affected families.

In Palm Beach County, the South Florida Genetic Testing and Education Fair will be held Sunday, October 14th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Florida Atlantic University's Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing in Boca Raton. West Boca Medical Center and Tenet Healthcare Foundation are sponsoring the fair.

Limited appointments are available. Call (561) 477-0337 to register or visit the foundation's website, www.mfrfoundation.org and select the registration link. The free screening is valued at $600, but the peace of mind it offers is priceless.

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