Scientist is Determined to Find a Cure for His Son with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Whitney Dafoe was an aspiring photographer who backpacked across the world. However, he always would return from his trips extremely exhausted.  He would feel weak and he didn’t know why.

He became bedridden for more than a decade, and spent most of his time in his 20s trying to figure out what was wrong with him. He went from doctor to doctor and underwent test after test. Each test came back negative.

He explains how frustrating it was to be told that nothing was wrong with him. He knew there was. He just needed an answer.

He broached the discussion with his therapist. Maybe he had some type of psychological illness? His therapist disagreed. There was something physically wrong.

Finding Answers

When Whitney was 29 years old, doctors finally confirmed he had myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). They explained that it was a very severe case.

Although there is no one specific test to diagnose this condition, a patient can be evaluated by their symptoms.

Whitney moved home because he was too weak to function on his own. He lost 7o pounds. He was unable to tolerate many sounds and visual stimulation. He stopped getting out of bed. He was barely eating and barely speaking.

Finally, he had to have a feeding tube inserted to get nutrients. He explains how he felt no joy, just pain and loss during these years.

CFS has a stigma where some associate it with just being “tired.” Whitney explains that it is so much more than that.

A Devoted Dad

Whitney’s father, Ron Davis, is a professor at Stanford University who specializes in genetics and biochemistry. He is renowned for his contributions to the Human Genome Project.

Ron has dedicated the last 9 years of his life to finding a cure for his son. He has gotten together a team of scientists and Nobel laureates to study this disease. The team has been searching for molecular traces of bacteria, viruses, and parasites, that may be present in Whitney’s body, helping the disease manifest.

His organization, the Open Medicine Foundation is raising funds to make this research possible.

Recently, the research team has found an interesting aspect of the immune cells of those with CFS. These patient’s immune cells conduct electricity in a different way than those of healthy individuals. This finding could lead to the first diagnostic test for this little-understood condition.

Whitney is confident his dad will find a cure. He says, there’s no one better to do it.

Ron is also sharing his family’s story in a newly published book called The Puzzle Solver. He knows there is an answer to the puzzle, it’s just about finding it.

You can read Whitney and his father’s full story here.

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