For immediate release: July 23, 2007
GALVESTON, Texas - Dr. David Redding, an allergy immunology fellow at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and his identical twin brother, Dr. Alan Redding, an allergy immunology fellow at the University of Tennessee-Memphis, will be featured on Diagnosis X on TLC Wednesday, Aug. 1. The show airs at 8 p.m., Central time.
David Redding and his brother met the show's co-executive producer in San Diego where they were attending a meeting. The producer thought identical twin doctors would provide an interesting twist.
The new series, which debuted July 25, mixes actual doctors with actors who provide continuity.
"She asked if we had an interesting case they could use," Redding said of his conversation with the producer. "Alan thought of a recent patient with a rare and difficult-to-diagnose disease, IPEX syndrome."
IPEX (Immunodysregulation Polyendocrinopathy Enteropathy X-linked) syndrome is a recently discovered immunodeficiency disease, always fatal by age 2 or 3 - usually by age 12 months - without a bone marrow transplant.
Women carry the disease on the X-chromosome, but it affects males. A defect in a certain type of T-cell (white blood cells that fight infections) makes the cells react against the patient himself rather than foreign microbes. Patients don't develop immunological tolerance in the gut so the gut stays inflamed and cannot absorb anything properly, the endocrine organs are destroyed by the immune system, and patients develop severe skin rashes.
A test for a mutation in the FOXP-3 gene confirmed the syndrome. The baby had a transplant and is "doing fairly well," Redding said. The child had great-uncles and great-great-uncles who died very young. A cousin died at Le Bonheur Hospital in Memphis in 1979; his was dubbed a "mystery case" in a medical journal article.
"The family agreed to let them use their story for the TV show, with some changes to protect their privacy," Redding said." Scriptwriters interviewed Alan Redding and both brothers checked the script's medical terminology.
Playing doctors on TV was "not much of a stretch," Redding noted. The setting is the North Hollywood Medical Center, a hospital that closed in the 1990s, "an excellent place to shoot medical shows." (The series Scrubs is filmed on a different floor.)
Each one hour episode deals with two cases. "I was surprised at how long it took," Redding said. Shooting the episode took two 13-hour days.
Thom Eberhart, director of the film Gross Anatomy, directed the Reddings' episode, "Systems Failure."
Redding, an Atlanta native who with his twin attended the Medical College of Georgia and was an internal medicine resident at the University of South Carolina, thinks the show should appeal to health professionals.
"It is showing the interesting ‘brain-teaser' cases where the diagnosis is not readily apparent," he said. "It shows how doctors have to go to books - or the Internet nowadays - and review literature. It exemplifies that you have to be willing to constantly learn and look things up to make a diagnosis."
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