Amber Behrendt, Boone Hospital Center
Amber Behrendt, Boone Hospital Center, respiratory therapist, felt helpless when a friend, Jennifer Wyatt, RN, asked her about Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency -- a genetic disorder that causes lung disease and liver disease.
"When my friend asked me about the disease, I was unable to answer many of her questions," says Behrendt. "As a respiratory therapist, I felt embarrassed that I didn't know more about this respiratory disease."
Behrendt began investigating the disorder and found out that if Alpha-1 is detected early enough, more treatment options are available. From that moment on, Behrendt embarked on a personal mission to educate the public about the disease.
In 2008, she and Wyatt, whose uncle died from the disease, coordinated the community's first-ever Alpha-1 awareness event, offering free Alpha-1 testing, along with helpful information. Now held annually, this year's event was held October 8, 2011.
Behrendt and Wyatt also started a nonprofit organization called Alpha's Voice to further promote Alpha-1 awareness.