Augusto Odone, whose story is told in ‘Lorenzo’s Oil,’ dies at 80

Lorenzo Odone, who inspired the movie "Lorenzo's Oil," and his father Augusto in 2006. Lorenzo died in 2008.
Lorenzo Odone, who inspired the movie “Lorenzo’s Oil,” and his father Augusto in 2006. Lorenzo died in 2008.
(Dayna Smith / The Washington Post)

Augusto Odone, whose battle to find a treatment for his son’s rare disease was the basis for the 1992 film “Lorenzo’s Oil,” died Thursday in Italy. He was 80 and had been suffering from heart problems and other ailments, according to his daughter, Cristina.

Odone, portrayed in the film by Nick Nolte, was told by doctors in 1984 that his young son, Lorenzo, would lose all his physical functions and die in just a few years of ALD, a degenerative condition that attacks the central nervous system.

Although Odone, an economist, and wife Michaela had no medical training, they defied the medical establishment and strove to find a way to halt the progression of the disease.

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Lorenzo’s chief caregiver, Oumouri Hassane, said Odone refused to give up. “He was a very stubborn, pushy gentleman,” Hassane said Thursday, “but in a good way. You could not stop him.”

The treatment they helped develop, Lorenzo’s Oil -- derived from olive oil and rapeseed oil -- has been shown to be helpful in some cases. Although it came too late to keep their son from losing much of his physical functions, Lorenzo lived to age 30, far longer than doctors had predicted.

Michaela died in 2000, and Lorenzo died in 2008.

A full obituary on Augusto Odone will be posted today at



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