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Tips for the Undiagnosed

Trying to find an underlying diagnosis for many conditions can be a very long and frustrating experience. With more rare conditions, a diagnosis can often take many years. Although this can be incredibly difficult, the following information may help navigate through the process of trying to obtain a diagnosis.

Where can I find out more about how to cope with an undiagnosed condition?

Are there research programs available for people without a diagnosis?

How can I learn more about clinical trials?

Are there any advocacy groups for people with an undiagnosed condition?

Who should I talk to if I have financial concerns?

Are there organizations that can help with the cost of travel?

Where can I find out more about financial assistance?

Where can I find out more about how to cope with an undiagnosed condition? Back to Top
To learn more about how to deal with genetic or rare conditions that have no definitive diagnosis, see:

Are there research programs available for people without a diagnosis? Back to Top
Yes. If an individual’s health care providers and specialists have not been able to make a definite diagnosis so far, participating in a research study or clinical trial may be another option. See below for a description of some of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research programs that are going on now:

In May 2008, the NIH launched the Undiagnosed Diseases Program, a clinical research program that aims to provide answers to patients with mysterious conditions that have long eluded diagnosis. This trans-NIH initiative focuses on the most puzzling medical cases referred to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, by physicians across the nation. Physicians and patients with additional questions may call 1-866-444-8806.

ClinicalTrials.gov is database that provides current information on clinical research studies. You can search ClinicalTrials.gov for research studies looking at general categories of diseases (e.g. neurological disease or eye disease) or specific symptoms. Some studies accept individuals without a diagnosis with the research goal of making a diagnosis.

One study that is enrolling individuals who do not have a diagnosis is entitled "Studies of Children with Metabolic and Other Genetic Diseases". This study is evaluating individuals with known or suspected genetic diseases, including metabolic diseases. Despite the name, people of all ages may be eligible for this study.

To find out more about clinical trials that take place at the NIH, you can call the NIH Clinical Center to talk to a specialist.

Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office
NIH Clinical Center
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2655
Toll-free: (800) 411-1222
Fax: (301) 480-9793
E-mail: prpl@mail.cc.nih.gov

How can I learn more about clinical trials? Back to Top
If you or someone you know is interested in enrolling in a clinical trial, you can find helpful general information on clinical trials at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Resources on many charitable or special-fare flights to research and treatment sites and low-cost hospitality accommodations for outpatients and family members, as well as ambulance services, are listed in the Travel and Lodging Assistance section of this Web site.

Are there any advocacy groups for people with an undiagnosed condition? Back to Top
Yes. See below for additional information and supportive resources for individuals with an undiagnosed condition and their families.

In Need of Diagnosis (INOD) provides help and support to individuals with undiagnosed conditions.

In Need of Diagnosis (INOD)
P.O .Box 536456
Orlando, FL 32853-6456
Toll-free: 888-894-9190
Telephone: 407-894-9190
Fax: 407-898-4234
E-mail: help@INOD.org
Web site: http://www.INOD.org

Syndromes Without A Name (SWAN) is a supportive organization for families of children who have undiagnosed, unnamed conditions, or who are still looking for a diagnosis.

Syndromes Without A Name (SWAN)
United States
Toll-free: 888-880-SWAN
Telephone: 269-692-2090
E-mail: swanusa@undiagnosed-usa.org
Web site: http://www.undiagnosed-usa.org

The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is a federation of more than 130 nonprofit voluntary health organizations serving people with rare disorders. The NORD Web site includes information on medication assistance programs and networking programs, a resource guide, and links to other online resources. You can get this information through NORD's Web site or by calling or writing the NORD offices.

National Organization for Rare Disorders
55 Kenosia Avenue
PO Box 1968
Danbury, CT 06813-1968
Toll free: 800-999-6673 (voicemail only)
Telephone: 203-744-0100
TDD: 203-797-9590
Fax: 203-798-2291
E-mail: orphan@rarediseases.org
Web site: http://www.rarediseases.org/

Genetic Alliance has partnered with Inspire.com to launch an online community for people with rare diseases called the Genetic Alliance Rare Disease & Genetic Conditions Support Community. This community connects patients, family members, friends, and caregivers.

Who should I talk to if I have financial concerns? Back to Top
It can sometimes take many years of specialized appointments and testing for a condition to be diagnosed, and this affects many individuals and families financially.

The Patient Advocate Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves as a liaison between families and their insurer, employer or creditors to resolve insurance, job retention and/or debt crisis matters related to their medical conditions. You can contact the Patient Advocate Foundation for further information.

Patient Advocate Foundation
700 Thimble Shoals Boulevard
Suite 200
Newport News, VA 23606
Telephone: 800-532-5274
Fax: 757-873-8999
E-mail: help@patientadvocate.org
Web site: http://www.patientadvocate.org

Are there organizations that can help with the cost of travel? Back to Top
Yes. Traveling to specialized centers for testing and diagnosis can be costly; the following organizations help organize free travel for patients within the US.

Air Charity Network
4620 Haygood Road
Suite 1
Virginia Beach, VA 23455
Phone: 877-621-7177
E-mail: http://aircharitynetwork.org/ContactUs/tabid/201/Default.aspx
Web site: http://aircharitynetwork.org/

National Patient Travel Center
4620 Haygood Rd, Ste. 1
Virginia Beach, VA 23455
Toll-free: 800-296-1217
Phone: 757-512-5287
Fax: 800-550-1767
E-mail: mercymedical@erols.com
Web site: http://www.patienttravel.org

Where can I find out more about financial assistance? Back to Top
The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) provides information on financial and medication assistance programs, health insurance, medicare/medicaid programs, and links to additional online resources. Most of these resources are available only to individuals in the United States.

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has information about financial assistance resources for people who need help paying for medical care.