The Jeans for Genes Malaysia (J4GM) 2016 campaign which was co-organised by the Faculty of Medicine and the Genetics Medicine Unit, at the University of Malaya Medical Centre was not only a resounding success, but the innovative double helix constructed from jeans donated by the public also made it to the Malaysia Guiness Book of Records.
The organisers of the campaign constructed a 531m-long DNA double helix structure by using over 1,000 pairs of jeans in conjuction with the J4GM campaign campaign aimed at raising funds for children who suffer from genetically linked diseases.
The purpose of the campaign was also to raise public awareness about genetic disorders and to raise much needed funds which will be used to provide these children with medical care. It is estimated that every year in Malaysia, some 20,000 children are born with congenital malformations which are often physically expressed over a wide range of debilitating symptoms.
The jeans which were sourced from donations from the general public will be sold off as part of the organization's fundraising efforts at a later date. J4GM director, Dr Azlina Ahmad Annuar was touched by the support they received for the event.
“A lot of people supported the campaign. Some of them showed up on the day of the event bringing even more jeans.
“We wanted to do something different where it will be more meaningful and significant for the public to help the organisation raise funds,” she said.
She added that getting donations will be made easier with the sale of the jeans, rather than asking people for money.
“During the campaign, the visitors also interacted with some of the people who suffered from genetic disorders and it gave them the opportunity to learn about genetic disorders,” she said.
The event was a mix of educational talks about genetic disorders and genetic counselling. It also provided an opportunity for adults and children to learn more about DNA through engaging activities like extracting their own DNA, creating DNA artwork and playing DNA-related games. A popular local artiste, Hanie Soraya, who is also a medical student herself also made a special appearance during the event.
J4G was organized in collaboration with relevant NGOs such as the Malaysian Rare Disorders Society, the National Ichtyosis Society, the Apert Syndrome Society, Epidermolysis Bullosa society (DEBRA Malaysia) with support from corporate sponsors among which were Pfizer, NanolifeQuest, Themed Resorts, Attractions and Hotels (TARH) – Kidzania and Kindness Malaysia.
By Harris Rajahdin