Firefighters Come Together for Colleague with Devic’s Syndrome

We love a good story about a community coming together!

What is Devic’s Syndrome?

Also known as Devic’s disease and neuromyelitis optica, Devic’s syndrome is an immune disorder characterized by inflammation of the optic nerve of the eye and/or the spinal cord due to attacks by the immune system. Individuals with Devic’s may have one attack that lasts days or weeks or recurrent attacks separated by weeks to years of remission.

The symptoms of Devic’s can often be confused with multiple sclerosis, so a correct diagnosis through MRI is important. Occurrence and severity of the symptoms of Devic’s syndrome depend on which optic nerve is affected, as well as where and how much of the spinal cord is affected.

To read more about Devic’s syndrome, click here.

From Life Saver to Getting Help

Johnnie Martin worked at DeKalb County Fire Rescue for thirty years before retiring and working part-time at another fire station. According to Johnnie’s friend and fellow firefighter Patrick Lindstrom, Johnnie was diagnosed with Devic’s earlier this summer.

“Three to four weeks ago, he was on a fire trip,” Patrick said. “He went from riding the firetruck basically to being 60% to 70% paralyzed from the waist down.”

It can be such a difficult transition already, coming to terms with your rare disease diagnosis — and must be doubly so for Johnnie whose physicality fueled his hero’s work of being a firefighter.

So his buddy Patrick decided to do something about it. 

He set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Johnnie, who is now wheelchair-bound. As of this writing, his GoFundMe has hit over $6,000 in contributions!

The money will help Johnnie adjust to life in a wheelchair — with the aid of his firefighters colleagues (past and present), who are planning to go to Johnnie’s home in Tennessee to make his home wheelchair-friendly.

“The least we could do is try to build him a ramp, try to get him a wheelchair,” Patrick said. “What I wanted to do is just have a day to go and really … show him how much we care and how much he means to us.”

Click here if you want to contribute!

And let this be a reminder of the power of community. While we are our own best advocates, a community of help can make it so much easier.

What do you think of these community of firefighters? Share your stories, thoughts, and hopes with the Patient Worthy community!



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