Christian Long

Jamie Heywood: Big Idea My Brother Inspired

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Reflection by MELISSA H.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Jamie Heywood:  Big Idea My Brother Inspired

Everyday many people will receive the heart wrenching phone call that someone they love has just been diagnosed or has died from a terrible disease. What if we could prolong this?

We could get the chance to spend more time with them and figure out what we need to cure their disease. Jamie Heywood thought of this idea after watching his brother suffer and die from ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). ALS paralyzes you and prevents you from moving, breathing, and speaking. The average lifespan for ALS disease is three years.

“Given my status, what is the best outcome I can hope to achieve, and how do I get there?” This was a common question asked by patients these days. “Is what we are here to do in medicine, is what everyone should do”, says Heywood. Today everyone wants to live to a very old age and get by without the news that they have been diagnosed with something that will be a terminal illness or one that can be cured give or take a year or two. Heywood and his family came up this is idea to keep all of his brother Steven’s data and put it together to help other in the future. Heywood quotes, “We need to give to others to be successful.” Heywood collected other people’s stories in words and data to begin the way medicine is delivered and done.

Heywood, his youngest brother, and one of his friends from MIT started a website called Patients Like Me. When filmed in October of 2009 there were 45,000 patients already on the website sharing their data. On Steven’s profile shows all the prescriptions he took his symptoms, and weight change. Jamie Heywood wanted something more. He wanted to create an application that show all the side effects of the medicines he was taking for the disease and how it made other things in his life worse.

“What if we built a time machine for patients, except instead of going backwards, we go forwards. Can we find out what’s going to happen to you, so that you can maybe change it?” ,Asks Heywood so he went for it. They found patients that have the same disease as you and line up all the date and compare them across the whole course of their disease.

Heywood’s brother had a stem cell surgery done but didn’t know until a couple months ago whether it worked or not. He asked and they sent him this:

In the dark blue you can see Steven’s procedure and how it failed.

But there was one patient who did better and ended up living in the light pink. Years after Heywood’s brother had died are more things being invented that could help someone today live longer than the average three years. Recently Heywood has been working on a lab and found some data on a drug that might work. His work has been outstanding and will continue to help people today that join the website that he has created and eventually maybe even be able to create a drug that will help ALS. It’s very moving that his brother inspired this idea for him.

The progress in medicine is amazing and I think will continue to grow and find new cures for many diseases after lots of research.


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