Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Friend or Family Feature...

Today's Feature is...

Dr. Phil!

No, not that Dr. Phil.

This one...

Dr. Phil is a friend of the family. He has spent his entire life working to help children. He is a leader and a hero. He is a bigwig Doc, a former medical school dean, and the nicest guy you'll ever met. He is a pioneer in the field of Cystic Fibrosis research. Cystic Fibrosis is a debilitating disease. Here is some more info.

Here are some specifics of his research:

"Dr. Farrell has had a long-standing interest in pediatric nutrition, especially in infants with respiratory disorders such as hyaline membrane disease and cystic fibrosis.He has published numerous articles on the epidemiology and effects of nutrient deficiencies in preterm infants and patients with CF, and on the benefits and challenges associated with newborn screening programs for this disease.

Dr. Farrell’s current research program is entitled Assessment of the Benefits and Risks of Cystic Fibrosis Neonatal Screening.The stimulus for this unique investigation, initiated in 1984, came from his experiences as a practicing neonatologist and pediatric pulmonologist. He fully appreciated the difficulties in diagnosing CF, despite its relatively high incidence among autosomal recessive hereditary diseases.

This randomized clinical trial, which has received continued National Institutes of Health support for more than 20 years, involves 650,340 newborns throughout the state of Wisconsin. It has become the largest prospective pediatric research project since the polio vaccine field trials of 1954. A related study, supported by a grant from the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF), analyzes psychosocial outcomes after newborn screening."

Here are the impressive results of that research:

"Results obtained thus far have elucidated epidemiologic characteristics of CF and unequivocally demonstrated significant nutritional benefits without revealing any long-term risks.The nutritional advantages of neonatal screening, published in The New England Journal of Medicine (337:963-969,1997) include greater height, weight, and head circumference. This randomized trial has also demonstrated unequivocally that malnutrition can be prevented in children with CF by a combination of neonatal diagnosis through screening and aggressive nutritional intervention (Pediatrics 107:1-12, 2001).

In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control, in association with the CFF, concluded that the Wisconsin investigation and others have generated enough evidence to recommend national screening of newborns for CF. This recommendation was published in the CDC's October 15, 2004 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report."


His research has prevented malnutrition in newborns. When you are a waiting adoptive parent, especially one who is waiting for a child from a foreign country, new words pop up in your vocabulary. They are words like, 'head circumference', and, 'malnutrition'. Dr.Phil's research has made it possible for parents who have children who carry the gene for cystic fibrosis, to get early intervention. CF causes malabsorption of nutrients, and therefore malnutrition.

I guess I have been thinking a lot about malnutrition this week. The drought in Ethiopia is worsening. Children are dying. Dr. Phil's research has made sure that no child who is screened will suffer malnutrition because they carry the CF gene. Not too shabby. If you have had a baby, or adopted a baby in the last twenty years, it is highly likely that Dr. Phil's research has benefited you and your child.

Last year Dr. Phil received an award from the Heritage Foundation.

“Heritage Foundation award recipients have many great qualities in common, but one quality stands out beyond the rest. Our Heritage Award recipients have an uncommon vision for the future. And at this time, we honor Dr. Phil Farrell for his vision, for his long-time relationship with Marshfield Clinic and for his contributions to the current and future well-being of Wisconsin.”

Seems like a busy guy right? Busy with all that changing the world stuff ?

Well, Dr. Phil was not too busy to help me when I got sick. He and his beautiful wife Alice were extremely supportive. Dr. Phil helped me to figure out what to do and where to go. His advice was invaluable.

I always feel bad for the doctors in a group of friends and families. They can't even go to a picnic without thirty people coming up to them with various ailments,"Doc it hurts when I do this," "Doc, what do you think of this mole?" Can't the poor man just relax like the rest of the picnickers? Why does every outing entail seeing patients?

Dr. Phil would never make you feel bad about stopping him mid-hot dog to answer a question you have about your health or the health of your children. He is more than happy to help. It's what he does.

How will my adoption impact Dr.Phil? I am hoping that I don't have ANY questions for Dr.Phil when I bring my kids to the next picnic. I hope we can all just relax on the deck, take in the sunset, and maybe even spot a bald eagle. In Dr. Phil my kids will see a man who has dedicated his entire life to helping others. He is an inspiration. He is a world famous doctor without a hint of self-importance. He is humble and kind. He is modest. I will never forget his support. It was the scariest time of my entire life. I am so grateful to him.

Thank You Dr. Phil.


  1. Dr. Phil rocks! And I really like the matching flannels. Seriously, thank you to Dr. Phil for all the work he has done and all the people he has helped, especially Julie.

  2. Wow, his accomplishment is very impressive! Awesome tribute.


  3. Wow, what an awsome guy to have in your inner circle....
    I swear I don't read your blog for one week and I feel like I've fallen behind!
    -still love your blog-