GUILDERLAND: Illness inspires family to help others

Although the main cause of his death was infantile liver failure, it took doctors months to find out that the real culprit was a malfunctioning MPV 17 gene, an extremely rare condition that Thomas inherited recessively from both parents.

To date, there has been only limited research done on the MPV 17 gene, but the thinking now is that it may have been the cause of several cases of liver failure in children.

"Thomas's unexplained, tragic death, in retrospect, has shed some important light on the relationship between basic genetic research diseases, and although there is no effective treatment for his condition, hopefully, it will be important to understanding diseases in the future," said Kerr.

A way to move forward

In order to cope with their son's death, the Morrisons started the Thomas Patrick Morrison Foundation. They started by asking for contributions in lieu of flowers in their son's obituary. Eventually they were able to use their contacts to put together a committee of family members to help organize the golf tournament, which was first held last year.

Most of the proceeds from the tournament last year went toward grants for families with a child battling a rare health condition, as well as toward pre-paid meal cards to families with children hospitalized at Albany Medical Center.

"This gave us a purpose, and gave us a way to cope, and every time we do something, one more person knows about our son and mitochondrial disease," Morrison said.

Melissa Hoopes, a friend and paralegal at Whiteman Osterman and Hanna LLP, one of the event's sponsors, is a committee member.

She said the foundation aims to assist other families financially so they can spend time with their children and have a little help paying for meals and transportation.

"The Morrisons are very good people, and it's a great organization and way to raise money, " she said.

Hoopes played in the golf tournament last year.

"It's a lot of fun, a nice tournament on a beautiful course, and the silent auction items are terrific," she said.

To be a part of this year's tournament, or for information about customized sponsorships, contact Carmelina S. Morrison at 281-0930, or at tpmfdn@nycap.rr.com.""

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