Couple finds miraculous cure after misdiagnosed disease


by staff

Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News

Posted on November 29, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 30 at 10:06 AM

LEAGUE CITY, Texas -- Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease because there is no cure, but a man found out his diagnosis was wrong. What happened to him could happen to you.

Ron and Doris Shillcutt, a couple married for 50 years, said it all happened very fast. Ron Shillcutt’s memory and ability to walk was gone in just four months.

“The first thing that entered our mind was Alzheimer’s,” she said. “By January it was dreadful, he was hardly able to walk at all.”

Neurologist Dong Kim at Memorial Hermann and the University of Texas Medical School helped solve the Shillcutt’s problem.  

It was NPH or Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, which creates excess fluid building up in his brain. Symptoms can mimic Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

The solution is a shunt, basically a long straw, under his skin that drains the fluid into his abdomen.

“Getting the shunt was sort of a miracle for us,” Ron Shillcutt said.

His memory and his ability to walk came back in a matter of days.

“I feel very, very good. I can still feel it,” he said. “It’s a miracle.”

Doctors don’t know why the fluid buildup happens. Only that it’s more common in the elderly. Ron is 74. The issue can be detected with the help of an MRI, something Alzheimer’s patients don’t always receive.

“Because it’s a treatable condition I’m particularly interested in as many of our citizens getting the right diagnosis as possible,” Kim said.

And now Shillcutt can hang his walker back in his garage. He doesn’t need it anymore.

“Well I don’t know what else to say except miracle. Putting something in your head that drains fluid and then your symptoms just virtually disappear,” his wife said.

They said it is a story they wanted to share so that maybe someone else can get the same miracle.

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