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Diving Into Your Gene Pool
10/1/2000
Tracing your family medical history through genealogy can not only put you in touch with your past — it might save your life.

Stanley Diamond is a man on a mission. In late 1993, he learned he carried a rare mutation of the Beta-Thalassemia trait, a genetic abnormality that can be fatal for a carrier's children. If both parents are Beta-Thalassemia carriers, their children face a 25 percent chance of inheriting the trait in a form that causes death before adulthood. Though common among people of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian and African descent, the trait is rare among descendants of Eastern European Jews such as Diamond.

After his diagnosis, Diamond began an unrelenting search for other carriers of the trait within his family. With help from Polish archives, to date he's identified 50 branches of his family that also carry the potentially fatal blood disorder. Diamond has been able to notify them of what tests to get and what results to look for.

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