Medicine: Old at Age 30

Though Mary Lou Manachi, 17, of West Paterson, N.J., and Linda Chiarello, 16, of New Providence, N.J., have different interests and career ambitions, the two earnest high school students also have something in common: a life-threatening genetic defect. Both suffer from Cooley's anemia (thalassemia major), a hereditary blood disease resulting in deficient synthesis of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of blood. Their condition causes cardiac and other complications that kill most of its victims in their teen-age years. The pale, often undersized youngsters may have bone deformities and enlarged spleens and livers; they tire easily and frequently miss school.

There are at least...

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