A paralyzed teen was disqualified this week from the Paralympic Swimming World Championships in Montreal after the International Paralympic Committee ruled her condition is not permanent.
Victoria Arlen, 18, awoke from a three-year coma at age 11 to find she was paralyzed from the waist down after suffering from an autoimmune disorder that attacks the nerves in the spine known as transverse myelitis.
"It started off with flu-like symptoms and pain, then I started feeling really funny," Arlen said. "In two weeks, I was paralyzed from the waist down and it spiraled down from there. Every ability I had was slowly slipping away."
After recovering from her coma, the wheelchair-bound teen from Exeter, N.H., discovered she could still swim by using her arms, and she ended up competing in the 2012 Paralympics Games in London where she won four medals, including gold.
However, after the London games, the Germany-based IPC asked the U.S. Olympic Committee for a “more in-depth analysis” of Arlen’s condition, reports ABC News. The medical report submitted to the IPC revealed that after years of extensive therapy, Arlen might walk again, therefore making the IPC classify her condition as temporary.
"What kills me is their people have no experience with my daughter's disease and have given an opinion,” said Arlen’s father, Larry. “They've got every disability in this organization, but this is discrimination."
Although the timing of ruling prevented Arlen from competing in Montreal, she has accepted what happened.
"I just have to put it all in perspective,” she said. “I know there are a lot more problems to worry about in this world … It is such a blessing to be where I am today … I love to swim and what I have been able to do -- give people hope. The fact that I am penalized for having hope is discouraging. If I didn't have hope and believe one day I would get better, I wouldn't be here today."
Source/photo: ABC News