That Jerry Bretag has survived so long with spina bifida surprises the experts who treat patients with the disorder every day.
If Bretag, 77, is not the oldest, he is at least one of the longest-lived people with spina bifida in Illinois and Iowa, where he resided for many years before retiring back to his hometown area in north-central Illinois.
“It’s certainly unusual for someone of his generation to have survived,” said Dr. Dianne McBrien, who works in the Spina Bifida Clinic at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. In 12 years of practice, McBrien said she has never seen a patient Bretag’s age.
In 12 years of practice, McBrien said she has never seen a patient Bretag’s age.
“It’s really uncommon for someone like him to reach their 70s,” agreed Dr. Nick Wetjen, a pediatric neurosurgeon at the Spina Bifida Clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The survival rate for patients born with the condition in the 1950s was 10 percent, and it would be much lower for the era of Bretag’s 1932 birth.
Quad City Times, by Deirdre Cox Baker 1/28/2010