NEW YORK, June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, 60 of the world's leading expert Immunologists from 18 countries in the Middle East convened for an historic three day Scientific Summit on Primary Immunodeficiencies (PI). It will take place at an undisclosed location, and is being organized and hosted by the Jeffrey Modell Foundation, a global non-profit organization dedicated to PI research, physician education, patient support, public awareness, advocacy, and newborn screening. Immunologists from Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, as well as Canada, France, and the United States will participate.
Vicki and Fred Modell established the Jeffrey Modell Foundation 26 years ago in memory of their son, Jeffrey, who lost his battle with Primary Immunodeficiency at the age of 15. There are more than 200 genetic defects under the umbrella of PI, and despite the fact that PI affects at least 10 million worldwide, most of those affected are not aware of the their disorder and suffer with chronic, recurring, and sometimes life threatening infections. The most serious condition is Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) often referred to as "Bubble Boy Disease." Remarkably, the incidence of SCID is reported to be 5 times greater in the Gulf Region than in most other parts of the world.
The goal of this regional workshop is to perfectly blend research with clinical care practices and to address newly discovered defects, protocols for diagnosis, and treatments, including newborn screening, bone marrow transplantation and gene therapy. There will also be sessions highlighting network models, educational programs, and opportunities for meaningful collaboration and interaction among treating centers in the Middle East.
One such collaboration has already taken place and is the subject of a highly acclaimed, Oscar-Nominated feature film about a four month old baby born without an immune system. The award winning documentary is a riveting drama that tells the story of Mohammed Abu Mustafa from Palestine, who is born with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID). He will die before his first birthday without a bone marrow transplant. His family, from Gaza, has only one choice for his survival. He needs to receive his life-saving transplant in an Israeli Hospital.
The film, titled "Precious Life" tells a complex and emotional story, as Israeli and Palestinian doctors put aside their differences to save the child. Dr. Raz Somech, and his team at Tel Hashomer Hospital, a Jeffrey Modell Center in Tel Aviv, cured Mohammed!
Dr. Somech will be a case presenter at the Workshop, together with the physicians from Palestine, who shared in the stunning achievement to cure Mohammed. "The film is a naive story that has nothing to do with politics, only friendship. It is about a bridge built by Palestinian and Israeli doctors, because in a hospital there are no limits. I am proud that the film received an Oscar nomination but the real prize I will wear is inside of me. It is a wonderful feeling to help someone, make a difference, and give a life," according to Dr. Somech.
"This Middle East Workshop, like this film, is about hope, the universal desire to protect all of our children and improve their quality of life. It has won acclaim for its raw depiction of courage and the fight for the safety of one family," said Fred Modell, co-Founder of the Jeffrey Modell Foundation.
Vicki Modell added, "We are on an historic journey, and we are now taking first steps toward the eradication of devastating fatal disorders such as SCID. Fred and I are honored that the most respected leaders in the Middle East region have taken this bold step to meet together. The possibility of creating meaningful interaction, collaboration and cooperation in this part of the world fills us with hope and optimism. Working together, these physician experts will celebrate remarkable scientific accomplishments, and they will save the lives of children...all children...one precious life at a time."
About Jeffrey Modell Foundation
Vicki and Fred Modell established the Jeffrey Modell Foundation in 1987, in memory of their son Jeffrey, who died at the age of fifteen from complications of Primary Immunodeficiency – a genetic condition that is chronic, serious, and often fatal. JMF is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to early diagnosis, meaningful treatments and, ultimately, cures through research, physician education, public awareness, advocacy, patient support, and Newborn Screening. There are now 493 physicians at 194 Diagnostic and Research Centers in the Jeffrey Modell Centers Network.
Vicki Modell, Jeffrey Modell Foundation, (212) 819-0200
Fred Modell, Jeffrey Modell Foundation, (212) 819-0200
SOURCE Jeffrey Modell Foundation