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Man gets extremely rare diagnosis after Covid-19 vaccine


By Lexie Cutmore

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    ELMIRA, New York (WENY) — Every now and then, the CDC publishes reports of people developing extremely rare conditions after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. After getting vaccinated, one local man was diagnosed with a disease so uncommon, experts say there’s a one in a million chance of getting it.

In September of 2019, Tom Gorman and his wife Betsy saw a video about a family who hiked the Appalachian trail. Shortly after the couple decided to test their limits.

“If they can do it, we ought to be able to do it,” Gorman said.

The next day they started hiking, but the COVID-19 pandemic created a few bumps in their journey.

“It was said that if you were caught on the trails or in the state park there was a $5,000 fine.”

Tom waited until the trails opened. Knowing he would have to cross state lines, he got the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. A few weeks later, he had some unusual symptoms.

“Loss of sensation in my legs. It felt like my legs were going to give out and that only happened like once or twice.”

Over time, Tom’s mobility worsened. For a short period, he says he experienced pain in his legs and needed to use a walker.

“The following day, I couldn’t walk at all,” Gorman said.

Tom was diagnosed with Guillian-Barre Syndrome or GBS. A rare disease that is sometimes brought on by a vaccination.

“Sometimes the triggers, because they’re so uncommon, it can be that the individual, unfortunately, had developed this inflammatory response that led to this condition. It’s hard to predict who’s going to be this person that might, unfortunately, have this happen,” said Dr. Justin Nistico, infectious disease specialist for Arnot Health.

Tom’s condition is so uncommon that the CDC’s most recent data shows no reports of GBS with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and only one with the J&J vaccine.

“With the CDC’s guidance and how the clinical trials have come about, it’s extremely, extremely, extremely uncommon,” Nistico said.

Tom says his circumstance was just unlucky.

“I’m not anti-vaccine. For the majority of people out there, it’s a good thing and people should be getting it. I was just unfortunate,” Gorman said.

There is hope for people with this rare disease.

“Some people could have long-term effects from Guillian-Barre Syndrome. There have been people who have recovered. It is important to know there is large variation between individuals who get this condition,” Nistico said.

Right now, Tom is focused on his journey to recovery.

“I’d like to walk again. I’d like to be able to use my hands again. I just want to be able to live a normal life,” Gorman said.

He remains optimistic that he could, one day, get back on the trails.

“I know the steps that I have to go through to hopefully get back to being normal and living a normal life and I’m looking forward to that.”

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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