A Fragile Heritage
The doctor spoke sympathetically, but his words were devastating. “Yes, it is genetic. This mutation happened because you are Mennonites.”
Wesley and Sheryl were stunned. Their perfect new daughter had been hospitalized five days after birth. Between episodes of shrill, spasmodic crying, Louisa was mostly comatose. The doctor’s words felt like an indictment of their heritage of faith and the God who had preserved it.
The diagnosis of MSUD (maple syrup urine disease) changed everything for the Leinbach family. Louisa’s restrictive diet was measured in grams, and ordinary viruses sent her to the hospital.
Should Wesley and Sheryl risk having more children, knowing they could also inherit the mutation? Should they pursue a liver transplant for Louisa? What would keep their children from marrying carriers of the mutation and beginning a new generation of suffering?
Combining one family’s story with fascinating research on genetic disease, A Fragile Heritage traces the strands of heritage, faith, and mutation through generations and addresses questions about genetic mutations resulting from the overlapping ancestry of many Mennonites and Amish today. It also answers a deeper question: In a world of imperfection, how can we believe in a perfect God? Foreword by Kevin A. Strauss, M.D.