Four family members are suffering from an unidentified illness that severely impairs their mobility.
Rivka, Tziporah, Tzvi and Racheli Herzfeld have all developed the condition, which causes them to fall over easily and eventually robs them of the ability to walk. It also prevents them from completing daily tasks like getting up from the sofa or fastening buttons.
“Unfortunately, we do have families that have multiple children involved [in a genetic disease], and we do all the testing and we still can’t pinpoint exactly what the problem is,” Dr. Helio Pedro, a genetics specialist, said to FoxNews.com. “It is a little bit concerning that we’ve done all this testing and still cannot really figure out what it is.”
Tziporah was the first sibling to develop symptoms when she was 11. It was identified after she began falling during gym class, and specialists diagnosed it as a condition consistent with Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease (CMT), a disorder that affects nerves and muscles in the limbs.
But as Tzvi, Rivka and Racheli developed similar symptoms, tests on all four ruled out CMT. Other neurodegenerative conditions have also been dismissed.
All of the siblings except Rivka have undergone various corrective surgeries, but the benefits have proven limited and only temporary.
While Tzvi is the only one who cannot walk at all, Racheli uses a motorized scooter at school, and Tziporah and Rivka can walk slowly without support.
“Let’s put it like this: My social life is not daily,” Rivka said. “There are some 23- [or] 24-year-olds who have a daily social life and see their friends on a daily basis — either they’re living with friends or roommates, but that would be irresponsible to my body. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that. It would make things much more complicated than they already are.”
“Even when the kids are going to a movie, what if the movie is on the second floor of the theater and that theater doesn’t have an elevator?” Esther, the siblings’ mother, said. “There are one or two theaters locally that have been very kind, [saying] if you let us know 24 hours in advance, we’ll bring that movie down to the first floor.
"Things like parades and hanging out with clubs, which [Tziporah and Rivka] would be more prone to do, they don’t do for fear of being knocked over or pushed over. They’ll absolutely fall; they don’t have the balance."
The family expects to receive results from Rivka’s second round of genetic tests next month, and hopes that they will shed light on her and her siblings' condition.