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St. Louis man bedridden for 11 years came up with cure and surgery that helped him get back on his feet

Doug Lindsay
Doug Lindsay

For 11 years, Doug Lindsay was bedridden — until he came up with a cure for his condition and a surgery that helped him get back on his feet.

The St. Louis, Missouri man had to drop out of college. He could only stay up about two hours a day. Beset by weakness, racing heart and frequent dizziness, Lindsay was barely functional, according to CNN. His mother and aunt suffered from a similar ailment.

Overnight in 1999, Lindsay went from being an enthusiastic biology major and aspiring professor to a 21-year-old college dropout after he collapsed following his first day of senior-year classes, CNN reported. He could only walk for about 50 feet at a time and couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes at a time.

Years of research, tests and convincing health-care experts followed as Lindsay pieced together medical-study clues and homed in on what was troubling his nonworking body.

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His mother suspected thyroid, but after a while Lindsay began looking at another gland — the adrenals, which sit atop the kidneys — and realized he was showing symptoms of a tumor. Thing was, he didn’t have one.

Eventually he figured out that his adrenal glands were malfunctioning — they were acting as if afflicted with a tumor. At some point Lindsay found that a structure inside was inflamed, leading the gland to behave as if it contained a tumor. He was producing too much adrenaline.

Working with Dr. H. Cecil Coghlan, a medical professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Lindsay received a diagnosis, finally, of bilateral adrenal medullary hyperplasia, according to CNN.

Having determined what was wrong, he then had to come up with the solution. Slicing open adrenal glands and popping out the medulla had been done on rats, cats and dogs, but never on humans.

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Lindsay convinced a doctor to do the surgery on one gland, and he improved greatly. He had the other one done too, and now, at 41, he is a medical consultant and off many of his former medications.

“He did something extraordinary,” John Novack, a spokesman for Inspire, a healthcare social network for rare and chronic-disease patients, told CNN.


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