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Dramatic medical error: patient in wheelchair for 43 years due to incorrect diagnosis


Because of wrong diagnosis over four decades in a wheelchair
A man from Portugal was in a wheelchair for 43 years because the doctors had not correctly diagnosed his illness. After more than four decades, the correct diagnosis had finally been made. Now the 61-year-old can run again.

Over four decades in a wheelchair
According to media reports, a Portuguese has spent 43 years of his life in a wheelchair because the doctors did not correctly recognize his illness. According to a report by the newspaper "Jornal de Notícias" Rufino Borrego had learned to walk again within a short time after doctors realized the error. As reported by the AFP news agency, Borrego was diagnosed with incurable muscular dystrophy at the age of 13 in a Lisbon hospital.

Little experience with the rare disease
According to the German Society for Muscular Diseases, muscular dystrophies occur worldwide with an average frequency of around ten people per 100,000 inhabitants.

As the experts report on their website, this small number is still divided between the various forms of muscular dystrophy, which differ in terms of inheritance, the onset of manifestation, the preferred start in certain muscle groups, the speed of progression and the involvement of other organs.

"It is therefore understandable that many doctors have little experience with these diseases," said the society.

There is other muscle disease behind suffering
The now 61-year-old used a wheelchair for more than four decades after being diagnosed, until a neurologist finally realized in 2010 that he was actually suffering from another muscle disorder, myasthenia.

This disease is also extremely rare. According to the German Myasthenia Society (DMG), the incidence is estimated to be around one patient per 10,000 people. "The disease can occur at any age (including childhood)," writes the DMG.

As the agency report says, the rare disease can be treated simply by taking asthma medication. Only a year after the new diagnosis, Borrego was able to go back to his usual café for the first time.

Rare disease was hardly known to doctors at the time
The café owner Manuel Melao in the city of Alandroal told the "Jornal de Notícias": "We thought it would be a miracle." Borrego, who could now lead a normal life again, emphasized that he had no resentment against the doctors who were responsible for the misdiagnosis at that time. After all, myasthenia was hardly known to medical professionals at the time. Borrego said: "I just want to use my life." (Ad)

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