KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Two months ago, he was enjoying life to the fullest. Now, a KCK man diagnosed with an incurable neurological disease is bedridden and losing the ability to move.
There are two things that are most important to Felipe Mejia: work and family.
“He’s a very joyful person,” said his son, Filipe Gallegos. “He’s always the center of the party. He likes to bring the family together.”
Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System diagnosed him with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Lee Rosterman is a neurologist at the hospital, but isn’t Mejia’s doctor. He spoke with FOX4 about the disease.
“[It’s] a sporadic disease that is usually picked up when somebody has a decline in cognition that looks a lot like dementia, but it’s much more rapid,” Rosterman said.
Mejia came home one night feeling dizzy and hoped the symptoms would go away. When they didn’t, his family took him to another hospital where doctors thought he may have had a series of mini strokes.
“They gave us medication and released him and told us he would be better within two weeks,” Gallegos said.
But he never got better, only worse.
“It’s formed by an abnormal protein in the brain that unfortunately just folds over and then aggregates and kills other brain cells,” Rosterman said.
It’s a diagnosis Mejia’s family never imagined could happen to a healthy and happy 53-year-old man.
“I come here almost every single day because I want to enjoy these last couple days or weeks that we have with him,” said Mejia’s nephew, Isaias Mejia. “Just two weeks ago, he was still up and dancing.”
The family knows there’s no cure but hopes one day there’s an answer. They want people to know that although the disease is rare, it does happen.
“It’s devastating. He’s still alive and we’ve already had to say goodbye to him just because we can’t talk to him anymore,” Isaias Mejia said.
“I hope that they find a cure, and that way it could help other families in the future,” Gallegos said.
CJD can’t be spread through common contact like sneezing or touching.
The family said they’re preparing for their last Christmas with Filipe and are focused on making his last few months happy ones. Filipe is leaving behind a wife and two teen children. If you would like to help this family, Mejia’s adult children set up a Gofundme for them.