Your friend is ill, what can you do?

    Consumer Reports News: October 07, 2010 05:13 PM

    If you've ever been ill, you're eternally grateful for friends and neighbors who've been of help. And it's hit or miss. Some days you have five casseroles, but no one to watch the baby. Other days, it's McDonald's for the kids, but no shortage of drivers to take you to chemotherapy.

    If you're lucky, someone steps in as a master organizer to coordinate trips to the doctor, meals for the family, babysitting for the children, and collect donations for medical care you can't afford. But the job can be daunting, unless that's a CEO, (or a mom skilled at color-coded chalkboards). That's why the idea of a medical gift registry sounded so good to me when I heard about it at Health 2.0 in San Francisco this week. When Diem Brown was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 23, people wanted to help, but when someone said, "Can I do anything?" she found it hard to reply.

    So she eventually created, a site at which patients set up a registry—much like for wedding gifts—and direct their well-meaning friends and family. Equally important, donations can be given when medical care gets expensive.

    A friend recently died after a long bout with breast cancer, and I wish I had been able to be of more help. Now I know what to do.

    Orly Avitzur, M.D., Consumer Reports medical adviser

    Have you ever used a medical gift registry? Please share your experience.

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