A Tennessee father who contracted the so-called “human form of mad cow disease” has died just eight months after his diagnosis.
On January, 33-year-old Tony Gibson passed away at a nursing home in Hendersonville surrounded by his wife Danielle, 31, and his four beloved daughters, Daily Mail reports.
The family learned last year that Tony had developed a degenerative brain disease spurred by the same proteins that are responsible for the infamous “mad cow disease” in animals. In the final two months of his life, the father-of-four was struggling to walk, talk, and even eat, Danielle told Daily Mail.
Danielle was seen singing Tony’s favorite hymn Amazing Grace to him three days before his death in a Facebook post that attracted over 15,000 views.
Speaking of his final moments, Danielle said, “He was having trouble swallowing in the last week. It got to where he would refuse anything and shake his head: ‘No’. The doctors told me it was just the process of the body shutting down. It was so hard to see because Tony is so strong; he’s such a big guy.”
It all started in December 2017 when Tony, an ironworker, started forgetting how to get around his own house. “He would say: ‘I’m going to the bathroom’ and I would say: ‘That’s not the bathroom’,” she said. “So I started labeling every room in the house. And that lasted about a month until he couldn’t read anymore.”
The 33-year-old’s mental health started to deteriorate rapidly. He would reportedly go to the neighbor’s house and take care of “his dog” despite not owning one himself. He would tell Danielle when they were in bed he wanted to make babies with her, despite having four children to raise already. At one point, Danielle didn’t let Tony drive anymore after he would get lost while running errands or chores.
Four months after the symptoms surfaced, the couple traveled to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Danielle was convinced her husband was suffering from dementia.
After a month of tests, neurologists told Danielle in May 2018 that her husband was suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) — a rare, degenerative brain disorder caused by coming in contact with or consuming meat that is infected or contaminated. They gave Tony one year to live in the best case scenario.
That said, the family man had to be placed in a nursing home in Hendersonville as he required round-the-clock care. However, his condition worsened by the day.
Now, after Tony’s tragic death, Danielle is still struggling to accept the fact that he has passed away despite knowing he did not have long to live. “The hospice nurse tried to tell me it would get worse after he passed,” she said. “I told her that I thought it wasn’t the case because for the past year I felt he was already gone. But she was right; you can’t prepare yourself for this. Everything reminds me of him, every time I look at our babies, it’s so hard.”
Danielle donated his brain to the CJD Foundation after his demise. She hopes researchers find a cure or at least some form of treatment for the deadly disease.
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