BIJAN SABET

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The family tree is missing medical history

My wife and I have recently become quite interested in putting together our family tree. It’s such a diverse family with various backgrounds and cultures. And a large family at that. 

We signed up with Geni and with a bit of nudging and effort from various family members we now have a tree that spans over 380 people and growing.

We are getting a ton of details that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. It’s really quite excellent.

As we reviewed all the information and watch the tree develop, we started thinking about health matters and family medical history.

For example, my wife’s dad died at  50 years old. Her father’s father also died at a very young age as well. Her’s father’s grandfather also died at a young age. All of them died because of heart failure. It’s clear how important it is to understand your family medical history.

But aside from that striking data, we really don’t know much about other medical history we inherit from our family tree. Who in our family has diabetes? Or cancer? Or Alzheimer’s?

I realize that I’m walking into a hornets nest and patient records are highly confidential. But if I had a medical issue that might pass down to my kids and so on, I would very much want them to know about it. I assume my grandparents, parents, uncles & aunts feel the same way.

At some point, we are going to have better tools that give us data and access. Of course, we will need assurances & security to make sure that the right people have access to the right information.

Electronic medical records are a start. Stitching our medical records with our family tree is the next step after that. And we will all be better for it.