Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dor Yeshorim

Before anything else, once your son or daughter reaches an age where it is possible to get married, they should be tested by Dor Yesharim.

Dor Yeshorim is an anonymous Jewish Genetic Disease carrier screening program. Participants are not given the results of their screening; instead, they receive an identification number. The screening is offered at a heavily subsidized rate. When a couple is considering marriage, both partners submit their identification numbers and are informed whether they are compatible or not. A couple is only considered incompatible if they are both carriers of the same disease.
Dor Yeshorim tests for a number of genetic diseases. Depending on a persons descent: ashkenaz or sefardi or both, different tests will be performed.

One of the first tests Dor Yeshorim tested for at its inception was Tay-Sachs, an always-fatal illness, (they test nowadays for about 9 different genetic anomalies). A horrible malady that killed children of Ashkenazi cuples who were both carriers of the disease. The rate of Tay-Sachs disease among Ashkenazi Jews is approximately 1 in every 3,000 births—nearly 100 times higher than other ethnic groups. Tay-Sachs is inherited in a recessive fashion, which means that both parents must be carriers of the defective gene to have an afflicted child. If both parents are carriers, they have a one in four chance—for each pregnancy—of having a child with Tay-Sachs.

Rabbi Josef Ekstein, from Brooklyn founded Dor Yeshorim in 1983, after losing four of his own children to Tay-Sachs disease. Representatives of Dor Yeshorim go to high schools and take blood samples for the testing. Dor Yeshorim has offices in the US, Canada, Europe and Israel.

If your S/D has taken the test, make sure you know where the number is. If it is lost the blood test has to be repeated. If your S/D did not take the test, do so before starting the shidduchim parsha. You do not want to have to wait at a crucial moment for the test to be taken and results to come, (a number of weeks even if rushed) and definitely you do not want the kids to meet and then find out there may be health incompatibilities ChV'Sh.

Be aware that the blood is only kept for about 4 years (call them). After that date you need a new test. Dor Yesharim can be reached at 718-384-6060.