Local minister takes leap of faith

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A local minister and correctional officer diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease takes a leap of faith with a risky surgery…

But now he’s doing just fine.  First News reporter Nadine Grimley tells us more about the procedure, and what it did for him.

Nathan Rivera has been living with Parkinson’s disease for several years, but if you saw him today, you probably wouldn’t know it.

“I think it’s a great success, there’s a big difference between the way I was and the way I am now,“ said Nathan Rivera.

Prior to undergoing surgery – his tremors were so bad – he couldn’t carry a cup of coffee.

“He saw the disease become something that hampered him in a way and knowing that there was something out there that oculd help. He wanted to be able to try to do anything possible,” said Elizabeth Rivera.

“So I thought about it. I prayed about it and I said well look, let me take the chance ,” said Rivera.

In October Rivera underwent a risky operation at the Cleveland Clinic called Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS, where electrodes are placed into the brain and connected by wires to a pace-maker type device that’s implanted under the skin of his chest.  It sends continuous pulses to target areas of the brain which modifies the circuits responsible for the symptoms of Parkinson’s.  The device is turned on a month after the surgery, giving the body time to heal.

“Nathan’s case is so special because he had such severe tremor and the surgery was so effective in controlling it,” said Dr. Michal Gostkowski, Cleveland Clinic for Neuroligical Restoration.

“I started seeing the results, you know, slowly I started saying well look I’m feeling better with this and even though they had not given me, how you call it the medication yet, everything kept on looking better and better, said Rivera.

Today, Rivera’s tremors are almost non-existent. Except when he gets nervous.  He says that he thinks the surgery was a great success – even though it won’t reach it’s optimal results for another six months.


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