(photo credit: Courtesy)
A 34-year-old woman at the start of a singing career who contracted a rare case of Parkinson's disease five years ago will perform in Jerusalem on Thursday to raise money for research into the progressive and incurable neurological disease.
Yael Meishar, who lives in Modi'in, is one of those tragic, unusual cases in which Parkinson's was diagnosed in the prime of youth rather than in late-middle or old age.
She already suffers from functional problems, tremors, stiffness and weakened muscles.
"Even the doctors didn't know [for some time] what I was suffering from," says Meishar. "We have no family history of the disease. It is said that everyone has a potential for Parkinson's, but that it breaks out due to a variety of factors."
She will sing at a special benefit concert and dinner organized by Hadassah-Israel at the Yehuda Youth Hotel in Jerusalem's Givat Masua neighborhood on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
She will be joined by Shuli Natan, the singer famous for her Jerusalem of Gold performance after the Six-Day War in 1967, who aims to raise funds for embryonic stem cell research, which may also eventually help Parkinson's patients.
"Promoting stem cell research can contribute to solutions for this disease and others such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), as well as helping spinal cord injury victims," said Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur, chairman of the neurology department at Jerusalem's Hadassah-University Hospital, Ein Kerem.
Stem cells, which can be turned into any type of body cell, could be used to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is in short supply in Parkinson's patients.
Hadassah neurologists and stem cell experts have already managed to show that stem cells benefit animals that developed Parkinson's or MS, "and soon we will proceed to clinical trials... It is not just theoretical research but an effort to help patients," Ben-Hur added.
Hadassah Medical Organization director-general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef and Hadassah-Israel president Norma Potashnik will be present at the event.
Tickets are on sale for NIS 1,200 (NIS 950 of which is tax deductible) at Hadassah-Israel's office at 24 Rehov Strauss in Jerusalem, tel. (02) 623-1411.
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