Viewers did not know what they were in for when Diagnosis dropped to Netflix on Friday, August 16th. Since it came to air, the seven-part documentary series has proven itself to be a real-life version of House, as Dr Lisa Sanders attempts to diagnose America’s seemingly-unsolvable medical cases.
It all stems from Dr Sanders’ New York Times column, where she crowdsources for answers to these rare conditions. Everything from Rasmussen’s encephalitis to Rumination syndrome has been shown.
But one man’s mystery condition which particularly stood out was that of Willie Reyes, the Gulf War veteran.
So what happened to Willie on Diagnosis? And why are viewers still desperate to help out the Reyes family?
Who is Willie Reyes?
Willie Reyes is a 46-year-old living in Vado, New Mexico with a rather complicated and debilitating illness. He lives with wife Sandra and daughter Serena.
Willie joined the US army at the age of eighteen and travelled all across the world, from Germany to Korea and Saudi Arabia. He served in the army for eight years before he started working at a prison.
But after he fell ill, Willie lost his job at the prison, one he’d had for nineteen years.
Willie has slowly been losing pieces of himself as his the lesions on his brain become more inflamed. This results in memory loss, hearing loss, mood swings and seizures. Potential diagnoses included Alzheimers, clippers and cancer but all the scans came up as negative and the biopsy returned as “unspecified inflammation.”
What happened to Willie on Diagnosis?
Most doctors were stumped by Willie’s case and test results and Dr Sanders’ initial crowdsourcing was not that conclusive.
Lisa said in the Diagnosis episode:
I think that his loss of memory, his loss of control over his emotions come from the fact that this creeping invasion of whatever this white stuff is has hit that part of his brain. It leaves him just powerless.
Her first two suggestions were that he had a viral infection or an autoimmune disorder.
But then some answers started to emerge for the Reyes family when fellow veteran Bob Chalmers contacted Dr Lisa Sanders. The veteran described his symptoms as “classic Gulf War stuff.”
A study by the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington showed that veterans who had experienced explosions sometimes had memory loss and mood changes years after they served in the army. This is known as Gulf War illness.
Fans desperate to help the Reyes family
Willie’s loss of job meant that the Reyes family were leaning on Sandra as the household’s income provider.
Both the producers of Diagnosis and viewers were stunned as Willie revealed to camera that they had no healthcare plan and they had accrued up to $10,000 in debt in healthcare bills.
Willie was also previously denied early retirement and disability living allowances, despite being a war veteran. This has understandably frustrated viewers who are seeking to set up a GoFundMe page for Willie. One said “WTF is wrong with the healthcare system in America,” while another added, “I’m utterly sickened by the US government.”
At the end of the episode, we are informed that Willie is still awaiting approval to receive help from the Department of Veteran Affairs financially and medically.
No GoFundMe page has been set up as of yet.
— ListentoLisa (@LisaAndHolt) August 17, 2019
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