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A Bad Diagnosis Keeps a Portuguese Man in Wheelchair for 43 Years

 

A couple days ago, a newspaper reported that a man in Portugal spent 43 years in a wheelchair due to a bad medical diagnosis. The man, now in his forties, is learning again how to walk properly.

As the Jornal de Noticias reported, a man called Rufino Borrego was diagnosed with an incurable muscle dystrophy at the age of 13 and since was stuck to a wheelchair. However, in 2010 a neurologist realized that the diagnosis wasn’t right – instead of suffering from muscle dystrophy, Borrego was struck by myasthenia, a totally different disease but with similar symptoms.

The main difference between these two seemingly similar diseases is that myasthenia is not incurable. This disease might be rare, but is fairly easy to cure. In fact, it can be treated with asthma medication.

The neurologist who noticed the mistake in Borrego’s diagnosis changed his therapy soon after realizing what the problem was. Less than a year after Borrego started with the new treatment, the improvements started showing up. Soon enough, Mr. Borrego’s legs become strong enough for him to walk.

Although it still needs time for Rufino Borrego to get a hold of proper walking after over four decades spend in a wheelchair, he is now able to go to his favorite café on foot. Mr. Manuel Melao, the owner of Borrego’s favorite neighborhood café said that he though a miracle has happened when he saw the man walking.

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Today, Rufino Borrego is a 61-year-old man, living in Alandroal, a small town in south-east Portugal. With the new therapy, Rufino Borrego is enabled to walk again freely. He only needs to visit his physiotherapist once every six months, which gives him plenty of time to get his life in order.

When asked if he’s considering suing the hospital, Borrego answered that he felt no hard feelings. The mistaken diagnosis did make his life worse, but the Portuguese man feels there is no room for looking back. One of the reasons why he feels like forgiving the hospital for the mistake is that myasthenia is still a very rare disease, while in the 1960s it was almost completely unknown.

Myasthenia gravis or MG as it is commonly referred as, is a disease that is that cause muscle weakness. Depending on the intensity, the disease can be mild, like for example the case causing eye twitching, but it can also cause serious problems like in the case of Rufino Borrego.

These days, the disease is fairly easy to treat, but in the past was a serious issue. In fact, at the beginning of the 20th century, the mortality rate for those affected by MG was about 80%. Today, that number is much lower, somewhere about 3 percent.

MG was first discovered in late 19th century, but it needed almost a whole century for scientists to find the right treatment for it. The reason for this is that the disease is fairly uncommon, so neither was there enough patients, nor the disease was a priority.

http://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/man-spends-43-years-in-wheelchair-on-wrong-diagnosis

 

 

 

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