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Discovery Health and National Organization for Rare Disorders Partner for Second Annual Rare Disease Day With the Premiere of the Special DISEASE DETECTIVES
Date:2/3/2010

SILVER SPRING, Md. and Danbury, Conn., Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) announced that Discovery Health and its new program, DISEASE DETECTIVES, will serve as media and program partners for Rare Disease Day on February 28, 2010.  This year represents the second U.S. observance of Rare Disease Day, an event designed to call attention to the public health issues associated with rare diseases affecting nearly 30 million Americans and countless others worldwide.  In the United States, "rare" refers to diseases plaguing fewer than 200,000 Americans - and according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) there are nearly 7,000 such diseases.  NORD and its 150 member organizations serve as advocates for these patients by heightening awareness of their conditions and the need for increased research funding for effective treatments.  Although progress has been made in recent years, approximately 15 million Americans have rare diseases for which there still is no approved treatment.

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"NORD is the voice of the rare disease community in the U.S., and Rare Disease Day provides an opportunity to focus attention on certain problems that people with rare diseases have in common," said NORD president and CEO Peter L. Saltonstall.  "For instance, studies have shown that it typically takes several years to get an accurate diagnosis.  In addition, most rare diseases have no approved treatment and no research in progress.  Patients also have problems related to insurance and reimbursement.  With Discovery Health's commitment to patient and public education, this partnership will help us reach a broad national audience with information about these important issues."

In honor of Rare Disease Day 2010, NORD is collecting patient stories, photos and videos to raise awareness of specific rare diseases, to be featured on a special website for Rare Disease Day U.S. activities: www.rarediseaseday.us.  In addition, NORD and its partners will unveil a Research Hall of Fame, host educational events across the United States and online, and debut a database of physician experts to help patients throughout the year.

On Sunday, February 28, Discovery Health presents a night of medical mystery programming, headlined by the premiere DISEASE DETECTIVES at 8 PM (ET/PT), followed by back-to-back encore airings of the network's award-winning series MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS at 9 PM (ET/PT).   The all-new special, DISEASE DETECTIVES, brings viewers inside NIH's Undiagnosed Disease Program for the first time, following Dr. William Gahl—a real-life "Dr. House"—and his team of experts as they attempt to diagnose the most complex and problematic medical cases in just five days.  

In addition, MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS returns with all-new episodes beginning Monday, March 8, at 10 PM (ET/PT).  Each episode chronicles the experiences of patients who are initially misdiagnosed or undiagnosed due to the uncommon nature of their symptoms and general lack of awareness regarding their conditions.  Often, the diseases profiled on MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS are rare or "orphan" conditions represented by NORD.  

"With a robust medical mystery programming slate, Discovery Health is dedicated to showcasing the powerful, real-life accounts of people suffering from diseases and conditions that fall outside of the medical mainstream," said Laura Michalchyshyn, president and general manager, Discovery Health, Planet Green, FitTV and Treehugger.com.  "Discovery Health is proud to partner with NORD—an organization renowned for its efforts in raising awareness for rare diseases.  Together, we are well-positioned to enhance public understanding of these diseases and to promote the vital importance of patient empowerment."

On-air, Discovery Health will also feature NORD-sponsored elements, including Rare Disease Day in-program mentions and factoids, as well as a tagged tune-in spot airing throughout the network's primetime lineup.  Online at DiscoveryHealth.com, visitors can learn more about rare diseases with fact sheets, statistics, quizzes and a smart patient guide.  The refreshed site will feature interactive elements including a community section, where visitors can share personal stories on how rare diseases have influenced their lives.  

This year represents the third Rare Disease Day worldwide, with the United States, Canada, Australia and China joining the nations of the European Union in observing the event for the second year.  Overall, approximately 300 patient organizations, medical societies, companies developing orphan products and others have joined NORD as Rare Disease Day partners.  For more information, visit NORD's website at rarediseases.org.

DISEASE DETECTIVES is produced for Discovery Health by Discovery Studios.  For Discovery Health, Alon Orstein is executive producer, and for Discovery Studios, Robin Sestero is executive producer.  MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS is produced for Discovery Health by True Entertainment.  For Discovery Health, Alon Orstein is executive producer and for True Entertainment, Steven Weinstock, Glenda Hersh and Stephanya J. Miller are executive producers.  

About NORD:

Established in 1983, NORD is a nonprofit organization which represents the interests of all patients and families whose lives have been impacted by rare diseases. A rare disease is defined as one that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are nearly 7,000 such diseases, affecting nearly 30 million Americans. NORD provides research grants and fellowships, educational services for patients, the public and medical professionals, and patient assistance programs.  NORD provides advocacy in Washington DC on behalf of the rare disease community.  For more information, please visit: www.rarediseases.org.

About Discovery Health:

Discovery Health Media includes the Discovery Health and FitTV television networks and online assets including www.discoveryhealth.com, as well as its Continuing Medical Education (CME) business and Discovery's first stand-alone VOD service, Discovery Health On-Call.  Discovery Health Media is part of Discovery Communications ( DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the world's number one nonfiction media company, reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries.  Discovery empowers people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity through 100-plus worldwide networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Planet Green, Investigation Discovery and HD Theater, as well as leading consumer and educational products and services, and a diversified portfolio of digital media services including HowStuffWorks.com.  For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.

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