Family's 4 Kids Mysteriously Losing Ability to Walk

Doctors still can't pinpoint exactly what their condition is
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2015 11:50 AM CDT
Updated Jul 11, 2015 7:00 PM CDT
Family's 4 Kids Mysteriously Losing Ability to Walk
"Two of the Herzfeld children are already confined to motorized chairs," per the family's GoFundMe page.   (GoFundMe)

Having one child with a rare muscular disease would buck the odds; having four kids affected by it is downright astonishing. That's the plight of 23-year-old Rivka, 22-year-old Tziporah, 18-year-old Tzvi, and 15-year-old Racheli Herzfeld, four siblings from Teaneck, NJ, who are fighting what Fox News calls a "mystery illness" that's weakening their muscles and progressively robbing them of their ability to walk, as well as plunging their family into at least $100,000 in debt. What makes it even more frightening is that doctors haven't pegged exactly what the disease is, notes the Record, despite many tests over the past decade. "It is a little bit concerning that we've done all this testing and still cannot really figure out what it is," one of the geneticists who's worked with the family tells Fox. The Herzfelds' mom, Esther, says the kids "were all just … normal and fine, and seemingly healthy" when they were born and were active and played sports as they got older.

But when Tziporah was 11, she started falling in gym class, and a neurologist initially diagnosed her with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, an inherited disorder. Her brother and sisters also eventually started exhibiting symptoms, but tests for CMT on all four came back negative. Students at the school where Esther teaches found out about their predicament and started crowdfunding to raise money for a customized van, home renovations, and medical bills for the Herzfelds; a local synagogue and others have also helped financially. In the meantime, despite their condition—the girls walk slowly and carefully because they can't get up if they fall, and Tzvi now uses a motorized wheelchair—the kids remain determined to find some answers. "A question mark isn't really doing it for me," Rivka tells the Record, while Esther notes, "We believe in miracles because we don't have any options." Read about their perseverance at the Record and Fox News. (A group of New York teens mysteriously started developing facial and verbal tics.)

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