Gaithersburg man fights for health after surviving rare disease
A Gaithersburg mom is holding her son a little closer this Mother's Day.
Three years ago she was told he had only a few months left to live.
At just 30 years old, Dustin Doyle survives off a ventilator and relies on a nurse and family to help him with basic tasks.
He can't move from his neck down to his waist.
"My mom, she's my world basically," he says.
Despite his everyday challenges, Doyle is a medical miracle.
"He's a happy person," says Sheri Diegelmann-Ausura, his mother. "I don't' know how he does it, but he inspires me."
A few years ago, the then-Maryland state inspector woke up with a stiff neck.
He couldn't hold a pen a week later.
After months of tests and an ALS mis-diagnosis, doctors discovered what was wrong.
They found that it was Paraneoplastic anti-Hu syndrome. They think it's environmental. They don't know what caused it.
The news left mom hoping for a cure, one doctors said she'd never find.
"You know when your children are young and they're hurt, you clean up their boo-boo and you kiss it and you send them on their way and they're happy, but there's no band-aid large enough to fix this," she says.
What could fix it was her son's unyeilding determination.
"I didn't feel like I was dying," Doyle says.
Dustin said that he thought that maybe this was happening to him so he could help other people.
And that's exactly what he's doing.
The disease somehow disappeared from Doyle's system, but he's still battling its residual effects.
Now he's focusing on recovery, finding clever ways to play games--like using his toes on a touch screen. And taking things one day at a time.
"Every day I get up and I'm more focused on what I do have and not what I've lost," he says.
Doctors told Doyle he's one of two or three people in history to survive this disease. He hopes to get back to the health he once had.
Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.