Rachel Marcus '85
Founder, Latin American Society of Chagas
Rachel is the founder of Latin American Society of Chagas (LASOCHA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of Chagas disease in both the at-risk Latin American immigrant community and health care providers.
Chagas, also known as the “kissing bug disease”, is common in Latin America and is transmitted by triatomine insects endemic to Latin America. The disease can live in the body for decades without producing any symptoms and could be passed from mother to child. A third of those with Chagas develop heart disease or megacolon, and untreated, they die from what appear to be sudden heart attacks. LASOCHA screens and treats victims for free, including providing free cardiac testing.
Rachel devotes at least a day a week to seeing patients at the clinic she helped establish in Northern Virginia, but also frequently works nights and weekends to keep the project going.