Jeans for Genes Day takes place on Friday September 20; the simple initiative invites people to wear their jeans to work or school (probably not to shul though) in return for a donation. The vital funding from the day provides care and support of children with genetic disorders. This year, 23 charities will benefit from the funding including Jewish Genetic Disorders UK.
Certain populations, such as the Jewish community, where people tend to marry and reproduce with “their own” have a tendency to their own specific diseases. This occurs when two gene carriers from within that population have children, and having two lots of the “bad” gene in their child conveys the illness.
That is why you will hear certain diseases talked about as being more prevalent within our community. These illnesses are often rare outside the community which makes awareness poor even among healthcare professionals.
Jeans for Genes day this year is particularly targetting this lack of awareness by partnering with Jewish Genetic Disorders UK. Funding from this year’s initiative will provide a £12,000 grant for the charity to produce a diagnostic and support signposting toolkit for healthcare and welfare professionals. This will aim to improve awareness for diseases that would not normally be top of a doctor’s list of potential diagnoses. Improving awareness among doctors leads to early diagnosis which can offer help to improve treatment and outcomes for patients.
Genetic diseases that run within the Ashkenazi population include not only devastating conditions such as Tay Sachs but other conditions such as Factor XI deficiency. This is a blood clotting disorder prevalent in the community that causes your blood to take longer to clot than normal. Often people don’t realise they have this, until they’re in a situation where bleeding doesn’t stop. This obviously can have serious consequences and it is important such genetic conditions are diagnosed as early as possible.
If you would like to contribute to this vital work that will benefit the Jewish community as well as the wider population, visit www.jeansforgenesday.org. For more information on genetic illnesses affecting the Jewish community have a look at www.jewishgeneticdisordersuk.org.