This landmark achievement, stimulated primarily by the studies of a group of American and British physicians and scientists, aimed to eradicate hemolytic disease of the fetus & newborn due to anti-Rh(D) antibodies (i.e., “Rh disease”). Indeed, when women have access to appropriate care during the pre-natal period and at term, the combined use of antenatal and post-natal Rh immunoglobulin is ~99% effective at preventing Rh disease. As a result, Rh disease virtually disappeared from Western Europe, Canada, the United States, and Australia. To celebrate this achievement, a series of celebratory events was held around the world, beginning on February 5, 2018 at Columbia University in New York City, where many of the early studies occurred (RhoGAM at 50: A Columbia Drug Still Saving Lives of Newborns and Celebrating 50 Years of Rh Disease Prophylaxis). Nonetheless, Rh disease remains dismayingly prevalent in other parts of the world, leading to hundreds of thousands of families affected by repeated miscarriages, stillbirths, and neonates with severe hyperbilirubinemia who then develop kernicterus. Thus, although the cure for Rh disease already exists, this devastating disorder is still commonly seen in much of the world due to both a lack of awareness and a lack of access to appropriate care. As such, an international group of physicians, scientists, epidemiologists, midwives, global health advocates, and industrial partners committed to “ doing something” by initiating a series of pilot projects in underserved settings to help families now, and to demonstrate proof-of-principle a pproaches that can be scaled up in the future to serve large populations. To this end, Columbia University, hosted an “end of the celebration year” full-day meeting on November 1, 2018 (the 1st Annual International Symposium for the Global Eradication of Rh Disease), during which prominent speakers from around the world, representing multiple medical specialties and points of view, discussed these issues. At that time, there was a consensus that a new, charitable organization should be founded to address the problem of eradicating Rh disease. After discussion and planning, a small focused meeting of interested parties occurred on March 29, 2018, hosted by the Centro Nazionale Sangue, in Roma, Italy. At that meeting, this group unanimously agreed to found the Worldwide Initiative for Rh Disease Eradication (WIRhE) and to host a “kick-off” meeting in Firenze, Italy on September 27-28, 2019 as the 2nd Annual International Symposium for the Global Eradication of Rh Disease. The founding members are shown in the photo below:

Shown left to right: Mario Orlando (Kedrion), Serena Bartoccioni (Kedrion), Mario De Curtis, MD (Università di Roma La Sapienza), Gioacchino De Giorgi, DVM (Kedrion), Rossella Miccio (EMERGENCY), Salvatore Sciacchitano, MD Ministero della Salute (Italy), Gian Carlo Di Renzo, MD, PhD (University of Perugia/FIGO), Giancarlo Liumbruno, MD (CNS, Rome), Steven Spitalnik, MD (Columbia), Gerard Visser, MD, PhD (University Medical Center-Utrecht/FIGO), Giuseppe Buonocore, MD (Università degli Studi di Siena), Pier Luigi Berti, MD (Azienda USL Valle d’Aosta), Patrice Spitalnik, MD (Columbia), Andrea Dotta, MD (Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, Rome). Not shown: Kasper Hedegaard (Eldon), Federico Moro (Kedrion)