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Woman forms group to help others with rare disease

Jeannie Peeper. Photo courtesy of Penn Medicine.

Jeannie Peeper. Photo courtesy of Penn Medicine.

Jeannie Peeper earned a bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Central Florida and intended to work in the field.

However a rare genetic disease that causes sufferers to grow extra bones forced her to abandon her career plans, according to this article in The Atlantic.

People who have fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) gradually lose mobility as their bodies grow bones in places outside of their skeletons.

Only 2 million people in the world have the disease and many die young.

Despite the disability Peeper, 55, still used her social work skills. Twenty five years ago she formed an association of people with the disease to provide each other emotional support, tips for living with FOP, and to advocate for research on a cure.

Thanks partly to Peeper but also to dedicated researchers such as Frederick Kaplan, the Isaac and Rose Nassau Professor of Orthopedic Molecular Medicine in Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, the medical profession is much closer to creating treatments for the disease.

Cheers to The Atlantic for sharing Peeper’s story.

Social workers are an integral part of the healthcare system. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Health and Wellness consumer website.



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