Medicine: Victory over Heredity

When Ida Muia Donnelly was born 24 years ago in Montrose, Pa., she had two strikes against her: from both mother & father (who were first cousins), she had a heritage of Mediterranean anemia, in which the red blood cells are abnormally thin. Ida had a doubly severe case of the disease, which afflicts (generally mildly) many Italians, Greeks, Syrians and Armenians, and their U.S.-born offspring.

Mediterranean anemia cannot be cured by iron treatments or removal of the spleen; it can only be relieved by transfusions of blood containing husky red cells. With good care and many transfusions, Ida grew up...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!