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Necessity— the father of invention

avid Brownstein ’78 had his heart set on becoming a sportscaster when he came to Glassboro State. However, after a short stint on WGLS he realized radio wasn’t for him and went into advertising. “I’m someone that would much rather be out on the field than describing what’s going on from the sidelines,” he said. Fortunately for him, his hands-on approach would one day help his children battle their disease, cystic fibrosis.

In 1993, Brownstein’s wife, Fern, gave birth to twins Jared and Jenna—the first known fraternal twins diagnosed with CF. “During the first two years of their lives, 80 percent of our calendar days were spent either at the hospital or in a doctor’s office,” said Brownstein. “It was a nightmare.”

A genetic disease caused by one bad gene from each parent, CF causes an imbalance of salt (too much) and water (too little) in the body that affects the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems. Infections and organ damage occur chronically. Not long ago, CF patients were unlikely to live beyond their teens. Now the average life span is more than doubled.

Though new medical treatments are allowing CF patients to live longer and healthier lives, Brownstein could no longer watch from the sidelines. “Jared had just had another nasal surgery to remove polyps,” he said. “He’d had too many surgeries for this; I had to do something.”
With only a rudimentary understanding of science and human biology, Brownstein taught himself the basics to develop a therapeutic solution. “I had always been interested in the sciences from a general standpoint,” he said.

After consulting many doctors and spending countless hours at the library, Brownstein gathered enough information to make his first antidote. Flushing out his son’s nasal passages daily with his homemade glacial acetic alcohol solution prevented the infected polyps from growing back. “It’s been three years and Jared’s been polyp free,” he said.

Inspired by the success of his first treatment, Brownstein created a second remedy to help minimize sinus and lung infections.

Since using their father’s solutions, the children have barely missed school and usually only go to the doctor for check-ups. Ironically, Brownstein still has one concern: raising his kids in a fat-free, low-carb society. “CF patients have trouble digesting and gaining weight,” he said. “Junk food is great for them.”

For now, Brownstein continues to work on more remedies for his children and is ready to resume his career in advertising. “Now that the kids are doing much better it’s time to go back to work,” he said. “I am not a doctor, but I know that if I had not done these things my children wouldn’t have made it. It was invention by necessity.”

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