Tony Gibson of Lebanon, Tennessee has just been named “one in a million”— but in an incredibly tragic way.
Gibson, 32, has two sets of twins, ages 11 and 1, with his wife, Danielle Gibson.
A little over a year ago, Tony, who had “the best memory of anyone” according to Danielle, began experiencing short-term memory loss.
As told by Danielle in an interview with People:
“He would get lost going to the grocery store. He had a doctor’s appointment one day and it was right up the road from us … he never came home that night.”
The next day, Danielle received a call from the police saying that Tony had been found at the airport, unable to figure out why he was there.
Danielle continued to chronicle the frightening experience:
“I wondered, ‘What is causing this man to be like this?’ I took care of him, but his decline was so rapid. Each week it would get dramatically worse. I had to label our bedrooms, bathrooms in our home. It got to a point where it was like a psychosis. It was unreal. It was scary.”
Mrs. Gibson also sat down with NewsChannel 5 of Nashville to share her family’s devastating experience.
As Danielle said in the video, Tony was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or CJD. It is also known as mad cow disease in humans.
The connection to mad cow disease originates from the late 1900s.
In 1993, BSE (mad cow disease) broke out in the U.K. It is believed that this outbreak is connected to several reported cases of vCJD, a variant of CJD that is believed to be caused by someone eating contaminated beef.
The disease affects somewhere between 300 and 500 Americans every year. Once a patient is diagnosed with CJD, they are typically given a mere year to live.
Tony has made it past his one year, but he requires around-the-clock care at a nursing home.
Danielle spoke about the incredible difficulty his disease has put their family through:
“My older kids, they hurt of it. My little babies, thank God they’re not old enough to really know. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life. I have to continue to fight for him and push on for my babies.”
She continued to say:
“If God was not in my life and I didn’t know that He has a purpose for everything … I couldn’t make it through this. I have to hold on to that. I see my husband’s eyes when I look at my babies. When he still had his voice, he begged me, he said, ‘I don’t feel like I’m gonna be alive much longer. Please promise me you’ll always take care of our babies.’”
Some others have also seen the disease’s devastation and strongly sympathize with the family.
(vCJD) Horrible disease. From an IP standpoint, an incredible challenge. #Prions
— Dude, just no (@dhambrick63) December 21, 2018
Had one patient with this hx. His residual effects were intense.
— Matron Saint of Snark (@atchley_sr) December 21, 2018
This is why I can’t give blood. I lived in Germany in the 80s when Mad Cow Disease was rampant. Since they don’t know how long it can stay dormant in humans, no one who lived in Europe at that time can give blood in the USA.
— Cindy (Blackburn) Hardy (@CindyHardy) December 21, 2018
Damn. I recall many years ago Human Tissue Bank had big scare after being notified of one of our donors came back positive for CJ’s disease….Form of Mad Cow Disease… https://t.co/n2TVXgbRU4
— DornCook (@DornCook) December 18, 2018
Others are heartbroken for the family.
???? prayers going up ☝️
— moh-BEEL! USA (@mohbeelusa) December 20, 2018
Very sorry to hear that and pray for his family!!
— restinginangels (@restinginangels) December 21, 2018
A GoFundMe has been set up to help support the Gibson family.