Jeffrey Modell was a sweet, cheerful, outgoing kid. He was a good student, played tennis, basketball, and loved camping. He went to rock concerts and had a girlfriend. He was a lot like every other boy his age, except Jeffrey got sick very often.
Jeffrey's parents took him to the best doctors at the most prestigious hospitals for diagnosis and treatment. His life was filled with normal, happy times, but was frequently disrupted with sudden high fevers, bronchitis, sinusitis and other infections, leading to extended periods on medication and lengthy hospital stays. Plans for fun activities were made in spite of the strong possibility that Jeffrey might be too sick to attend. Even periods of good health were strained with the ever-present threat of sudden illness.
Jeffrey longed for a normal life, or even a disease that people had heard of before. Two decades ago, no one knew very much about Primary Immunodeficiencies. They were considered so rare, that many doctors knew too little about them and had even fewer treatment options. Lay people had never heard of it. It was not at the top of many research agendas.
Jeffrey endured the very real hardships of not only his physical illness, but also the social and emotional distress that often accompanies PI. At 15 years old, his condition overwhelmed him and took his life. Inspired by both his courage and his optimism, it is in this spirit that the Jeffrey Modell Foundation was created.
From the hardship of their own experience, Jeffrey's family learned the enormous medical, emotional, and financial difficulties associated with Primary Immunodeficiency (PI). They found that families with this problem had nowhere to turn for help.
Since Jeffrey's death from pneumonia in 1986, the Modells have been committed to supporting those afflicted with PI. They established the Jeffrey Modell Foundation to help patients, their families, physicians and researchers understand the nature of PI.
JMF has developed a network of international Centers of Excellence for clinical care and research to find treatments and cures. Families in the U.S., Canada, and Europe have found comfort in the expert care they receive at these facilities, as well as JMF K.I.D.'s Days, family workshops, and the JMF hotline. The Modells have successfully testified before Congress on numerous occasions to put PI on the governmental research agenda and have sponsored physician education conferences in cities around the world.
For a comprehensive history of JMF, please visit our JMF Milestones.