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ADVANCE Discourse: Lab

His and Hers: Rare Genetic Disorders Lead to Love

Published March 20, 2012 9:48 AM by Valerie Newitt

If ever there was a rose among the thorns, this is it. Loyola University Health System recently issued a news release about husband and wife Thomas and Laureen Lash, both born with rare genetic disorders that have prevented them from growing taller than three feet. The two met through an association for people with these rare disorders 15 years ago, and married a year later.

His: Thomas has osteogenesis imperfect, also known as brittle bone disease, which affects the body's ability to produce collagen, making the bones fragile and more susceptible to breaks. "I have suffered countless fractures (more than 100 broken bones) since I was an infant," Thomas said. "However, thanks to my wife, I am diligent about going to the doctor and taking my vitamin D to protect my bones."

Hers: Laureen was born with Spondyloepimetaphyseal dysplasia, Strudwick type. This disorder affects bone growth and causes skeletal abnormalities and vision problems. She has experienced frequent joint discomfort, dislocations and instability in her neck.

Five years ago, Thomas and Laureen turned to experts at Loyola University Health System (LUHS) for help. Doctors began monitoring their bone density, calcium and vitamin D levels because they are both at greater risk for developing osteoporosis.

Because of their short stature, Thomas and Laureen live in a house that is fully equipped for their height with lowered countertops, light switches and bathroom facilities. Thomas also uses a wheelchair, and Laureen drives a car that is custom-made for her needs.

In their spare time, the Lashes serve as advocates for others with these conditions. They also are taking steps to adopt a child with similar health issues.


posted by Valerie Newitt


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