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Tags: mystery | illness | siblings | Herzfield

Mystery Illness Robbing Four Siblings of Ability to Walk

By    |   Wednesday, 08 July 2015 02:20 PM


Four New Jersey siblings are suffering from a mystery disease that is robbing them of their ability to walk. The frightening symptoms of stumbling and falling began more than a decade ago in first one child of Esther and Arthur Herzfield, then another, and the disease has relentlessly progressed.

The four children — Rivka, now 23, Tziporah, 22, Tzvi, 18, and Racheli, 15, are all afflicted by the same chronic degenerative muscular disorder that has defied diagnosis. Tzvi, the only male, can no longer walk and relies on a motorized wheelchair. His three sisters can still walk, although carefully, knowing that if they fall, their muscles aren't strong enough to allow them to get up on their own. They are unable to perform simple tasks, such as buttoning shirts.

All four children were born seemingly healthy. Tziporah was the first sibling to begin stumbling and falling when she was 11. Initially, she was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, a rare inherited nerve disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system, which supplies impulses to the muscles in the extremities, weakening them. But since tests came back negative or inconclusive, and CMT is inherited but no one in the Herzfield family tree had the condition, doctors have ruled it out as the cause.

The family is still undergoing testing, using the latest technology to find the damaged gene or genes.

A decade of surgeries, genetic testing, and renovations to make their home handicap-accessible has left the family $100,000 in debt, says Fox news.

The family kept their financial struggles secret until recently when they entered a contest conducted by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. They hoped to win a wheelchair-accessible van, since the family has difficulty going anywhere with four handicapped children. Even though they didn't win the contest, philanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz learned of their plight and donated a $63,000 van.

The Herzfield's home still needs many modifications to meet the sibling's needs, and their local synagogue and the United Way are donating funds.

Although their bodies may be weak, the siblings are strong academically. According to Fox news, Rivka will graduate from Yeshiva University in New York City this summer with a master's degree in Bible studies; Tziporah graduated this year from Yeshiva University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology; Tzvi graduated from Teaneck High School and will enter college with the hope of becoming a lawyer; and Racheli, who wants to be a writer, will be a sophomore at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls.

Esther Herzfield still has hope a cure will be found for her children. "We believe in miracles because we don’t have any options," she told northjersey.com.

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Health-News
Four New Jersey siblings are suffering from a mystery disease that is robbing them of their ability to walk. The frightening symptoms of stumbling and falling began more than a decade ago in first one child of Esther and Arthur Herzfield, then another, and the disease has...
mystery, illness, siblings, Herzfield
442
2015-20-08
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 02:20 PM
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