MS Living Well Podcast. Recipe for Resilience: The Blind Cook and NMOSD

Dec 19 2023

Christine Ha, The Blind Cook with NMOSD

Christine Ha, an award-winning blind chef and restauranteur, shares her experience grappling with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD). Facing relapses with the inability to walk and feed herself that challenged her independence, she leaned on the support from family and friends. As she lost her sight due to optic neuritis in both eyes, Ms. Ha had to embark on a journey of rediscovery in the kitchen, starting with the fundamentals. Winning MasterChef Season 3 marked a turning point, propelling her culinary career forward despite the obstacles posed by her disability.

NMOSD is an autoimmune disease in which an antibody attacks water channels on astrocyte cells in the optic nerves, spinal cord and sometimes the brain. Attacks or relapses can be devastating and incomplete recovery from attacks is typical.  Like Ms. Ha, some people living with the condition can be misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis. A blood test for the aquaporin-4 antibody is key to getting diagnosed correctly early. Since 2019, highly effective treatment options have been FDA-approved that reduce relapses by 77-94%.

This podcast episode is sponsored by Amgen.

Barry Singer MD, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews:

Christine Ha is a blind chef living with NMOSD. Her culinary career was launched by winning MasterChef season 3 with Gordon Ramsay. Her first cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen, was a New York Times best-seller. She obtained a master’s degree in Creative Writing Program at University of Houston. Ms. Ha’s first restaurant in Houston, The Blind Goat, was named a semi-finalist for 2020 Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation. She was also named a James Beard finalist for Best Chef in Texas in 2022.

Michael Levy MD PhD

Michael Levy MD PhD is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Neuroimmunology Clinic and Research Laboratory. He received his MD and PhD at Baylor College of Medicine and completed his neurology residency and neuroimmunology fellowship at Johns Hopkins.

BY: Barry Singer, MD DATE: December 19, 2023 TOPIC: Podcasts