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Review by Joyce Brubacher

Wayne and I attended the 1999 PKU Parent/Professional Conference in Massachusetts in March. We met Dr. Richard Koch from Children's Hospital in Los Angeles and his wife, Jean. Dr. Koch spoke on "Positive Results of Late Treated PKU" at the conference. He has been very involved in treating PKU for many years. He and Jean were very good friends of Dr. Robert Guthrie. In the early 60s, Dr. Guthrie developed the bacterial inhibition assay used for screening for PKU and MSUD. If it had not been for Dr. Guthrie, persons with MSUD would have a much greater risk of damage and death today.

Jean Koch wrote a biography of Dr. Guthrie, Robert Guthrie: The PKU Story. She tells the story of Bob Guthrie as a family man as well as a scientist. The father of a retarded son, Dr. Guthrie dedicated his life to the prevention of mental retardation. His crusading spirit led him to present programs throughout the world on the need for the early detection of conditions leading to mental retardation. In 1968 he took his wife and children on an adventure around the world, camping out with their two VW buses in various countries, sightseeing and visiting medical centers to encourage newborn screening.

Jean was kind enough to autograph my copy of her book. I have found the biography quite interesting. Our own interest in newborn screening also started in the 60s when our son Monte was born in Oregon. He was the first infant in the world with MSUD to be picked up through a state screening program. Dr. Guthrie flew to the state of Oregon when Monte's second Guthrie test was confirmed positive. Monte was making medical history, and Dr. Guthrie was the reason it was possible.

It was many years later that we met Dr. Guthrie personally. Then in 1988, he and his wife Margaret attended our Symposium at Hinkeltown, PA. They stayed for the full symposium. He took an interest in our support group and was very encouraging.

Dr. Guthrie's dedication to preventing mental retardation was instrumental in saving the life and health of our son in 1965 and many others with MSUD since. This book reveals the real Dr. Guthrie and the many obstacles he overcame to leave this contribution to mankind. I highly recommend it to those interested in the history of newborn screening, medical history or general interest in a dedicated father and scientist.

The book is available from your local bookstore or can be ordered from:

Hope Publishing House
P.O. Box 60008
Pasadena, CA 91116
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web site: www.hope-pub.com

 

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