Norwalk man diagnosed with black mold

Cary Ashby • Aug 12, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Doctors originally were going to diagnose John Wade with lupus, multiple sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

But it turns out the lifelong Norwalk resident has toxic black mold. Wade's daughter, Jessica Reitzel, said her father received the diagnosis last week.

"He's been undiagnosed for four years," she said. "We found out it is black mold and it's the most dangerous you can get."

There is a fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Gardner's SuperValu to help raise money for Wade to get to Nashville for more extensive treatment. There will be a bake sale, car wash and hot dog sale -- all by donation.

Reitzel said her father needs the treatment "before anything becomes permanent or fatal."

Online donations can be made at www.gofundme.com. Put the Norwalk zip code -- 44857 -- in the search engine to find Wade's information. The Wade family also has set up a fund at Croghan Colonial Bank.

"He started having symptoms four years ago," Reitzel said.

Two years before that, Wade pulled out the entire floorboard in his basement after some flooding. Reitzel said "unfortunately" her father handled the entire project himself.

"We didn't think it was anything bad at the time," his daughter said.

Doctors originally diagnosed Wade with having a mold-related illness.

Since February, Wade has been taking prescribed medication -- as have Reitzel, two of her three sisters and their mother, all of whom have been diagnosed with less severe mold. Reitzel said the medicine has been working for them, but it wasn't potent enough for her father, who started undergoing treatment last week to help his immune system.

"It's not strong enough for how bad it was," she said.

Black mold isn't toxic by itself. One species of mold is Stachybotrys chartarum, which releases the toxic spores mycotoxins.

"They (mycotoxins) can cause neurological damage, trigger uncontrolled internal hemorrhaging, reduce white blood cell count (and) suppress the immune system. The effects of mold poisoning from Stachybotrys mold can be fatal," said Julie Cowin, a friend of the Wade family.

"John currently has all the symptoms except uncontrolled internal hemorrhaging," added Cowin, who is helping with the fundraiser.

In March, Wade had a relapse. Reitzel said this "attacked different parts of his body," including his muscles and nervous system.

Wade, 49, is the Norwalk High School varsity boys' bowling coach.

"He coached over the winter. He had his walker and could barely walk," his daughter said.

Reitzel was asked how her father's health is now.

"Now, he can walk, but he gets leg cramps. It's attacking his heart and his kidneys," she said.

Reitzel said she hopes sharing her dad's story can help people with similar symptoms and raise awareness about the danger of black mold.

For more information about Saturday's fundraiser, call Jessica Reitzel at (419) 706-6709.

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