Actress Chandra Wilson is helping to raise awareness about Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and Mitochondrial Disease by directing an episode of ABC Television’s medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” which incorporates a character found to have Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.
Board members of the CureMito! non-profit organization, patients and families affected by mitochondrial disease and cyclic vomiting syndrome, supporters and members from the local community including Assembly member Anthony Portantino, along with CureMito! Ambassador Chandra Wilson – who plays the role of Dr. Miranda Bailey on ABC television’s medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” – will gather together at the Westin Pasadena Hotel to view the historic episode and public service announcement as they air to the public on November 15th, 2012 at 9 pm.
The viewing party is scheduled from 8 to 10:30 pm.
Chandra Wilson both directs and acts in Episode #906, entitled “Second Opinion,” which incorporates an adult character who finds out that he has Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. Following the episode, Ms. Wilson appears in a 10 second public service announcement that points viewers to the Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Association website which will have front page links to CureMito! and 2013 Pasadena Rock n Roll ½ Marathon and Mini Run.
“I heard the strong desire from sufferers and their families to have a CVS (Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome) storyline on Grey’s Anatomy. I had been talking about it for about a season, and decided to make an official pitch to the writers before we went back to work for season 9,” explained actress and director Chandra Wilson. “Once I was given this opportunity, I asked my producers if a PSA (public service announcement) would be possible, and was given the approval,” she continued.
Chandra Wilson, a multiple award winning television actress, began her philanthropic role as the ambassador of this relatively new charity organization after her eldest daughter, Sarina McFarlane, was diagnosed with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, or CVS, a type of mitochondrial dysfunction. Ms. Wilson’s daughter was officially diagnosed at Children's Hospital Los Angeles by Medical Geneticist Dr. Richard Boles after undergoing a vast medical workup by numerous pediatric specialists for close to a year. Ms. Wilson’s daughter, a college sophomore who used to suffer from monthly bouts of vomiting and abdominal migraines, is now able to manage her chronic medical condition under the proper treatment.
In addition to her help with CureMito!, Ms. Wilson is also spokesperson for CVSA, Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Association. Ms. Wilson is hopeful that the episode, which is expected to reach an audience of over 10 million, will ultimately help viewers and their loved ones who might be afflicted with cyclic vomiting syndrome.
“I believe that saying the name (Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome/mitochondrial disease) will lead to the validation of a Grey’s viewer who may be suffering at home with or without an official diagnosis.”
Along with this special “Grey’s Anatomy” episode and public service announcement, Ms. Wilson will be making television appearances on CBS television’s “The Talk” and NBC television’s “Access Hollywood Live”.
Dr. Boles, a pediatrician who specializes in Medical Genetics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Medical Director at Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc., agrees that the episode may lead to identifying and helping some who may have cyclic vomiting syndrome. He is also hoping that the episode will encourage those affected and others to get involved by further increasing awareness and advocacy for fundraising for research in mitochondrial medicine.
In addition to Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, patients with mitochondrial disorders may suffer from a host of additional functional conditions such as autism, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), migraine, depression, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and bowel dysfunction. Mitochondrial disease is believed to be more common in children than cancer, and several times more common than muscular dystrophy. However, the exact incidence of mitochondrial disease is unknown since so many people live their lives undiagnosed.
“Mitochondrial disease is the most common disease that you probably have never heard of,” says Dr Boles.
CureMito! Board Member Suri Nowosiolski who has a preschool age daughter affected with mitochondrial disease explained, “When our child was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease at 9 weeks old, we had never heard of this disease. We were extraordinarily lucky—many families search for a diagnosis for years. Getting the word out about mito (mitochondrial disease) can help ensure early diagnosis and proper treatment for mito patients—thereby (possibly) saving patients and their families from years of illness and uncertainty.”
CureMito! is a Los Angeles based non-profit which raises funding for clinical and laboratory research of mitochondrial disease and its related functional disorders and increases awareness and understanding of mitochondrial disease in both the medical and general communities. CureMito! is the benefiting charity for the Pasadena Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon and 5K Mini Run on Sunday, February 17th, 2013.