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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brain Aneurysm

I just had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Natalie Niekro, the beautiful daughter of Major League Baseball player Joe Niekro. What an inspiration Natalie is, she has put countless hours into raising awareness of aneurysm causes, treatments and research. As a patient with Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD) of the carotid arteries I also have brain aneurysms. I am grateful for the work the Joe Neikro Foundation is doing, it will make a difference in lives of those affected by FMD. Please take a moment to learn more about the Joe Niekro Foundation.

"There is an increased prevalence of intracranial aneurysms in patients with extracranial cerebrovascular FMD compared with the general population. In a meta-analysis of 18 studies involving 615 patients with carotid or vertebral artery FMD, the overall prevalence of intracranial aneurysms was 22%. However, when patients presenting with subarachnoid hemorrhage were excluded, the prevalence of intracranial aneurysms was only 7.3%  2.0%. Other investigators have reported a prevalence of 22% to 51%. ( Olin and Sealove, Journal of Vascular Surgery, 2011)

All too often, life throws us a pitch we aren’t prepared to catch.  For Natalie Niekro, that curve ball came October 26, 2006, just four weeks before the fairytale wedding she’d been dreaming of all her life. On that day, Natalie’s father, a former major league knuckleball pitcher, Joe Niekro, suffered an unexpected and what would turn out to be a life devastating brain aneurysm. With her world turned upside-down, Natalie channeled her sadness, anger and frustration into her new life’s mission: Combating the enemy that prematurely took father. Leaving a successful career in the corporate world behind, Natalie started The Joe Niekro Foundation…Knuckling Up for Aneurysm Research, a 501 c-3 organization committed to awareness, research, treatment and education of brain aneurysms - the silent killer that affects 1 in 15 Americans. 

With over $2 million raised to date, The Joe Niekro Foundation has created strong partnerships with Major League Baseball, multi-million dollar corporations and hospitals across the country. The Joe Niekro Foundation PSA’s have received nationwide coverage as television stations across the continent are “Knuckling Up” and joining in the fight against aneurysms.  In honor of Joe Niekro, several of the Major League Baseball teams will feature Brain Aneurysm Awareness Day this upcoming season and The Joe Niekro Lectureship and Symposium on Early Detection and Treatment of Cerebral Aneurysms will take place this winter, along with the foundation’s largest event of the year, The Knuckle Ball which will take place this November at Minute Maid Park in Houston. 

The foundation also serves as a support group, connecting individuals who’s lives have been impacted by brain aneurysms. In just 2+ years, Natalie has forged bonds with countless victims and their families across the country; some stories have happy endings, others similar to her own. By offering everything from words of wisdom to a shoulder to cry on, Natalie has thrown back the curve ball and committed to changing the course of this disease. These events, in addition to several others, are what Natalie spends her days and nights working on, but this is only the beginning. Thanks to Natalie’s tenacity, passion and determination, lives will be saved, fate will be altered, lives will be changed and the legacy of Joe Niekro will forever live on.

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