Lab dedicated to infant safety

Hospital receives donation to focus on rapid identification of infections

August 25, 2007|By Kelly Brewington | Kelly Brewington,Sun reporter

After Andrew and Phyllis Rabinowitz's 9-day-old daughter, Rebecca, died of an undiagnosed viral infection last year, the couple hoped to prevent other parents from experiencing such grief.

Yesterday, officials at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children dedicated a laboratory to develop rapid testing for viral infections in infants, launched with a $110,000 donation from the Rabinowitz family.

The couple made the gift through their R Baby Foundation, which they established shortly after Rebecca's death to promote research on viral infections and to raise money for treatment.

"I feel confident that the new Rebecca Rabinowitz laboratory will enable physicians to detect infant infections more rapidly and that we will help many families avoid the tragedy that Andrew and I endured," said Phyllis Rabinowitz, who grew up in Baltimore and lives in New Jersey with her husband. "Together we will save the lives of countless babies."

The lab will develop techniques to identify viral infections, which are often difficult for even seasoned physicians to detect.

"Although we can diagnose and treat most of these infections, it can be extremely difficult for even the most experienced doctors to identify the cause early enough to initiate effective treatment," said Dr. James Nataro, head of the pediatric infections disease division at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children.

Dr. Steven Czinn, professor and chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said the foundation's donation will also help educate people about the risks of infant infections.

"The R Baby Foundation's donation is an incredibly valuable gift," he said, "not only for Baltimore, but for the entire state."

kelly.brewington@baltsun.com

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