Minnesota Man Waits Nearly 80 Years For Diagnosis

March 02, 2017 05:49 PM

Eighty-four year-old George Fedor has had cerebral palsy his entire life. He just never knew it.

"They didn't have a name for it," Fedor said. "Cerebral palsy was kind of a new thing back then." 

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Fedor was a patient at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare back in the 1930s. His medical file shows black-and-white photos of a young boy with a lot less muscle mass on his left side and asymmetrical posture. At the time, doctors simply told him he had been born with a birth defect.

He had different sets of braces and different surgeries, but he never had more of an explanation, which might be because one barely existed yet.

Healthcare and modern medicine have changed a lot since the 1930s. For instance, when George first came to Gillette, the first antibiotic had just been discovered, and the wheelchair had just been invented.

George adapted. He went on to have a family and a career. Then practically a lifetime later, he was encouraged to return to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare where they have a program for past patients, no matter their age. That's when he was finally diagnosed with cerebral palsy after nearly 80 years.

"I think I had tears in my eyes that day. It was opening a door I never knew existed," Fedor said.

George does physical therapy once a week through Gillette. At 84, he's working on building strength and flexibility on the left side of his body that has been the most affected by his cerebral palsy.  

He'll tell you finally having answers can have a healing quality all it's own.

"I finally have my answers," he said.


Ellen Galles

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