4 Times Grey’s Anatomy Featured Rare Disease and We Loved it

Eleven seasons have come and gone (we are mid 12 now) and I remain a hard core Grey’s Anatomy fan. I remember back in college for a public speaking class I chose one of Meredith Grey’s monologues. Ahhh, I revel in the memory. And my admiration of her character was way before last year’s season finale and this year’s mid season premiere! I digress…

Back in 2011 Dr. Zoanne Clack, co-executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” wrote in an e-mail to ABC News,

“Something we’ve wanted to do on ‘Grey’s’ is portray someone living with a chronic disease instead of dying from one.”

Well, kudos to you ABC Network! Now it goes without saying that yes sometimes there may have been some mischaracterizations, but I think we can all agree as rare disease advocates that “medical dramas” on prime time TV play a huge role in raising awareness and getting rare diseases into the limelight for a while. House, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Chicago Medical- just to name a few top of mind.

Patient Worthy has decided to recap a few rare disease cases featured on the hit show. What are you favorites? Comment below and @PatientWorthy on Facebook and Twitter! We would love to start a Featured Rare TV series!

  1. That time, Teddy (Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery) had to perform surgery on her husband (who she married to afford him access to her healthcare) and didn’t know it! This was all post learning that he was living with Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL)– a genetic cancer condition that causes tumors in areas of the body rich in blood vessels, like the eye, kidney, pancreas and spinal cord. S8 E09 Dark Was the Night
  2. In Season 10, when April and Jackson are going to have a baby and their relationship is just tormented by the news that their unborn has tested positive for the rare Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). OI is more well known as “brittle bone disease” and while it can be managed, there are several forms or types and no cure.   You can check out a TV Guide recap and mini interview here.
  3. The adorable little girl Iris survives surgeries via the McDreamy Dr. after coming to Seattle Grace for treatment of her Moyamoya Syndrome in SEASON 9 EPISODE 22 “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?” Moyamoya Syndrome is a rare and progressive cerebrovascular disorder often found in children but also in adults. It usually displays as a mini stroke (transient ischemic attacks) and can progress into severe muscles weakness and paralysis, arterie blockages, hemorrhagic strokes.
  4. Cystic Fibrosis has been featured on Grey’s several times over the years, but most recently, Dr. Karev gave a young girl a set of new lungs and it made my heart so happy! Oh also, if you are living with CF and are looking for an awesome community to join- click here to check out our partner CysticLife.org to join Ronnie & the community of awesome!

I thought to myself I need to write a post about all of the rare diseases featured on TV! Then I thought, let’s get all of our Patient Worthians to help us out.


When you are watching TV and see a #raredisease featured: 

Snap a picture and Tweet or Facebook @PatientWorthy #rarediseaseawareness #thanksmoderntv #(insertdiseasehere)  to help raise awareness! 

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