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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 10, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta Members of family tree die with disease by age of 40 Killing gene in family ancestor doom for descendants i ,i i___iv_ ftrAtxr lhat manil Nbnwy 10, 1971 THI UTHMIEdf HtRALD 31 I HEAVY TOLL I TRAVELLED BY LAND In 1862 smallpox wiped out I Sir Alexander Mackenzie first many bauds of Indians on the reached the Pacific coast by British Colurcbia coast. land in 1793. Wfcy, the Umil.v asked, did M many tkeir liae became stricken in the prime of life with a linger- ing disease that always killed, generally by Was there, somewhere, a bad seed, killing gene in the gift of lire? There was, and ever will be until the fatal orga- nism is either tamed or it- self killed. By DEE WEDE.MEYER SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) No one is sure when it began for Judy Vink. Probably centuries jgo in some forgotten ancestor, m his genes, the legacy of life. Probably it was a mutation, a change in those genes, and life became doom to many of his descendants. Slow, disabling, mysterious death, generally by 40 years of age. And worse. It strikes only the members of a single family tree. They call it "the disease." It has been their curse for gen- erations. It began imperceptibly. A slight stumble, a speech slur. 3ut the family knows. The dis- death, usually :rom lung complications. Judy Vink's family noticed it about two years ago. "She's got they said to themselves. When staii-s be- come harder to climb, when a coffee cup became impossible to A VICTIM WAITS Mrs. Judy Vink holds her 214- week-old baby, Lance, in the family's Luverne, Minn., home. Mrs. Vink has her family's hereditary genetic disease, a form of ataxia, which has thus far been fatal for all its victims after a lingering illness. Lance, olong with his blood line, inherits a 50-50 chance to become a victim of the disease, according to medical experts. HOCKEY'S ENDLESS ROAD So you think the life of a pro- fessional hockey player is all steok and fancy hotel rooms when on the road. Right, in part. But it's also gruelling hours of travel, shifts in time zones and mounting problems of fatigue. Take it from Andy O'Brien in Weekend Magazine who travelled over miles with the Vancouver Canucks 'as they played four games in five nights. IN YOUR LETHBRIDGE HERALD WEEKEND MAGAZINE hold, Judy knew, too. The disease had killed her father at age 33. It was killing two of her uncles. "The children, that's the worst said Judy, 24, mother of three youngsters. SOME ESCAPED Henry Schut, from another branch of the family, has been luckier. He now is 60. But he remembers. "There was not a single day in all my life that I didn't look at my footprints to see if I was going straight." "Everytime he tripped, my heart would said his wife, Hazel. The family traces back to a Dutchman, Gerrit Jan Vanden- berg. Four of his children came to the United States in 1866, set- tling in Iowa. Three of them were girls. They all eot the dis- ease. One, Allie Vandenberg, mar- ried Hendrick Schut and had nine children. Seven of them got it. In 1915, three sons of Allie Schut, who also had the malady, visited the Mayo Clinic in Roch- ester, Minn. The doctors could only say that the illness was hereditary. Henry Schut was the son of one of those men. His father died when Henry was 14. A sis- ter and brother of Henry's have succumbed to the illness. So have a number of cousins. An- other brother is hopelessly ill with it. Henry Schut made the disease his enemy. He researched the family tree extensively. In the IMOs, he travelled through Iowa and Minnesota with a nurse gathering tests of the "family. He persuaded his brother, John, to wcome doctor to try to find a cure. Meanwhile, some bits and >ieces were accumulating. In fears past Judy Vink's grand-ather, John Swier, had called he disease "the ataxy." There is such an a-taxia, a loss of motor activity. A form of it attacks nerve cells in the spinal column and brain stem and eventually causes shrinkage of the cerebellum, the Dart of the brain that governs ixMM-dination and equilibrium. Death, usually after loss of speech and the cough mechanism, comes from a clogging of the windpipe or lung ailments. URGES BIRTH CONTROL In 1941, Dr. Royal Gray of the University of Minnesota examined several of the stricken descendants of Garritt Jan Van-denberg. He studied the family geneology. He concluded the trouble was a dominant genetic disorder and urged the family to practise birth control until age 33 when the danger point of transmitting the disease by heredity apparently passed. Following such advice, or by not marrying, the Schuts have virtually eliminated the disease from their line. Henry Schut's brother, John, meanwhile had become a physician and while in the United States Army persuaded his superiors to let him research ataxia. He collected blood samples and spinal fluid from 168 persons and wrote several papers on the National Ataxia Foundation to raise research funds. Sometimes he solicited, himself, door to door. But time eventually ran out and he was taken to hospital wiiere he has been for seven years. There were others. Shirley Swier, now 31, met her husband, Vernon, when she was 18. In time she had learned that Vernon's older brother that maiufested itself inll f- -f---pinal cerebellar degeneration, LETHBRIOGE A.C.T. i form of ataxia. 1 130J 17th AVE. S., IETHBRIDGE They were able to tell those in 1 for now, they had but one I The bad gene would 1 die with that generation. 1 The doctors plan more 1 TICKETS will BE MAILED been stricken. But she thought Vernon would escape. Then one day in 1962 he noticed difficulty in lifting bales of hay on then- dairy farm. Vernon tried other work, meanwhile seeing a chiropractor, Dr. Dean R. Johnson in Sioax Falls. Previously, in Vernon's brother, Ken, also came to see Dr. Johnson. Seeing a second brother afflicted enraged the chiropractor. "Where were the he said later. "Didn't anyone SEND MEDICAL TEAM Ultimately, Johnson wrote the National Genetics Foundation, which promised to send a medical team. Last December, the doctors arrived, including Dr. Lawrence Schut, a neurologist who is the son of Henry Schut. A total of 95 family members showed up in Sioux Falls. For 12 hours the doctors took samples, tested reflexes, studied the members of this shadowed family. Two characteristics began to recur: a small, pie-shaped white spot on the optic nerve and a tendency to turn the thumb inward. The initial diagnosis of the doctors was mixed news for the family. Fifty-seven members under 30 were potential victims; 14 definitely had it and 12 hac "soft" signs with an indication of future affliction. The doctors said anyone whose parents on the family side did not get the disease would not contract it himself. For those whose parents hai had it, the chances were 50-50. The doctors confirmed the illness as a dominant genetic CUP SWEEPSTAKE Separate Sweepstake With Another !n Prize Money and a Completely New Draw Will Be Made Every Tickets Sold Lethbridge and Area buy your ticket from Associated Canadian Travellers lioni Club of Lelhbridge Lelhbridge Family YMCA Leaders Corp. Royal Canadian legion or mail the coupon MONPY r STANLEY CUP SWEEPSTAKE Holder of the Winner of the 1 RED DKR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Stanley Cup Holder of the Second Place 1 Team 1 He became a fellow in neurology and psychiatry at the University of Minnesota. Then, one day while carrying a cup of coffee, his hands began to tremble. He knew. WORKED AGAINST TIME Realizing time was now a factor, he speeded up his training in neurology. With a small group of volunteers, he of the Third Place l ADDRESS 1 -r nt t? on pnch PRIZES TICKETS WILL BE MAILED your tickets now to qualify for the per week Early Bird Draw Top rated BERNINA With the automatic fabric sensor Bernina is rated first you'll know why Ihe minute you test sew a Bernina. The exclusive Bernina Automatic Fabric Sensor insures perfect feeding; yes, matched long seams and no puckering with even the most difficult to feed space age fabrics. Only Bernina lets you breeze through seams on sven the most expensive fabrics without a second's hesitation and with the greatest of ease. Perfect stitching on knit fabrics, stretch fabrics, rainwear ;inyl, tough leather and simply any fabrics. Everything you need is built right into the machine. It tailor tacks, bastes, mends, blindstilches, sews on buttons, makes buttonholes and embroiders with two or three needles. Visit your Bernina dealer or ask for a free home demonstration and you'll find out what the excite- ment is all about. Lifetime guarantee, wide choice of cabinets. Bernina prices start at S109.00. 600 dealers to serve you acrcss Canada. SEE THE BEAUTIFUL BERNINA AT: CALL FOR FREE HOME DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCE TV CENTRE 319 7th STREET SOUTH PHONE 328-1673 make snacks a snap Most everyone agrees that apples are the ideal snack and lunch-box dessert wholesome and nutritious, so convenient, and so good for every member of the family. Right now there are good supplies of the smaller sizes of B.C. Apples available just the right size for family snacks even the kiddies can eat a whole apple without wasting any. And you get more of these snack-size apples per pound, so it's a double saving. Snack-size B.C. Apples! Good for your family. Good for your budget. Available at your favourite store in "B.C." bags and baskets. MORE B.C. APPLES PER POUND ;