High-Tech and Amish

Using 21st-century medicine to maintain a 300-year-old way of life.

There are no parents in the world who want to see their child sick. Often the illness is no big deal—you follow doctor’s orders and your kid gets better soon. But what do you do when your child is really sick, and it’s because of decisions the founders of your religion made more than 300 years ago? And what do you do when the medical solutions seem to run counter to that very same religion?

This is the dilemma faced by many Amish and Mennonite parents in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, whose children suffer from genetic diseases at rates exponentially higher than the rest of the population. These Plain People, as they call themselves, typically eschew technology. But 30 years ago they chose to step out of character and embrace the latest advances in genomic medicine to help save their children.

Reporter Kyrie Greenberg spent almost a year getting to know some of these families, and she produced this podcast with us.  


HostsMichal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
ProducerMariel Carr
Associate ProducerRigoberto Hernandez 
ReporterKyrie Greenberg


Original music composed by Zach Young. Additional music courtesy of the Audio Network.