Alex and Maddy

Alex and Maddy

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week

If someone had asked me before Alex was born what mitochondria were? I probably would have looked at them like they were crazy. I have long ago forgot much of my early biology. (Although I better start learning so I can teach Alex!)And yet these tiny parts of our cells have impacted our lives in ways I never could have imagined.

The mitochondria are equivalent to a battery. They make the power for things to work. When the TV remote's battery dies, the remote can't do a thing until the battery is replaced. You may be able to coax a few more uses out of that battery. You take the cover off and spin the batteries. You shake and hit the remote. You stand in just the right spot and you may get the volume adjusted a bit. But, ultimately, you know the battery is done for. The same works for our mitochondria. When they are sick, they lose the ability to power our body. We can do little things to improve their function... take vitamins, avoid stressors, preserve the energy used, but ultimately, the mitochondria are failing. But, unlike the TV remote, there is no way to replace the power source. No fix. No treatment. No cure. (Thanks Missy for this analogy)

Mitochondria keep Alex from doing so much that every child should enjoy. He can't eat, he doesn't go to school, he spends 2/3 of his time sleeping, he tires out making it impossible to play sports or even go for a walk, he spends a 1/4 of each year in the hospital. Our biggest hope is that a cure will be discovered in Alex's lifetime. The way to find a cure is by spreading awareness and funding research.

This week as you get out of bed and go about your everyday activities, activities that most of us take for granted, please think about Alex and all his little buddies and spread the word about this devestating disease!

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