Debbie Bishop was born August 11, 1966. She was born extremely small in stature, and at the time was diagnosed with lactic acidosis. Doctors knew very little about the disease she was inflicted with, or how to treat her. By the time she went into kindergarten she was by far the smallest child in her class. At the age of 7 she experienced her first seizure. Over the next several years she developed an enlarged heart, which led to kidney failure and ultimately the cause of her death. Debbie died at 15 years of age from a mitochondrial disease. Her oldest sister, Susan, recalls her great love for animals and how she loved visiting their local zoo.
Debbie’s older sister, Bonnie Bishop was born on November 12, 1963. Bonnie tested positive for high lactic acid levels, but the doctors were unable to diagnose her with anything and she was able to lead a normal life until she was 25 years old. At this time, Bonnie started losing weight, feeling ill, and had her first seizure on the way home from work. Over the next five years her seizures got dramatically worse and worse. On the night of September 4, 1994 she had a seizure that she never woke up from. Bonnie was 30 years old when she died from a mitochondrial disease.
Bonnie and Debbie’s oldest sister, Susan, gave birth to Rachael Lauer on November 8, 1987. Like Debbie, Rachael was born small in stature and lacking of energy. At the age of 18, Rachael was diagnosed with MELAS, a rare genetic disease that decreases the energy output of the mitochondrial cell. Without this energy, Rachael often finds everyday things like walking around the mall, going for a swim, or completing a week of school hard to do. Her disease has the possibility to lead to major system failures of the heart, liver, brain, skeletal muscles, and kidney.
Mitochondrial diseases have been affecting my family for generations. The Lauer/Bishop Research Fund has been set up to honor the lives of Debbie and Bonnie, and to improve the life of my sister’s, Rachael. It is time to find a cure.