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Phoenix family desperate for answers after loved one develops 'mystery illness'

Posted at 9:50 AM, Dec 09, 2019

PHOENIX — Not long ago, Shawn-Lee Midkiff was a happy and healthy mother, grandmother and wife.

"Very outgoing, well-spoken, sign language interpreter," Shawn-Lee's husband, Guy, said. "Loving wife, loving mother."

But today, she lies in a hospital bed. Her family says she developed a debilitating illness that remains a mystery to both them and doctors.

"It started in about the beginning of October, where she started getting a little imbalanced and sleepy," Guy Midkiff said.

"It went from having trouble walking, to a cane, to a walker, to the walker didn't help anymore," Shawn-Lee's sister Kris Barnett said.

Not only does the family say Shawn-Lee can barely walk, but they say she has difficulty using her hands, swallowing food and is unable to speak.

"It's so stressful to see her like this and not to know what's wrong with her," Barnett said.

They say her illness appears to be neurological.

"Her brain is not functioning to where her body moves the way she wants it," Barnett said.

They say it has stumped doctors who are still running tests, as they wait for answers.

"We are losing every minute of the day that we are not knowing what's wrong with her because she is declining," Barnett said.

They're hoping someone sees her story and recognizes her symptoms. They say they are reaching out to medical specialists abroad, seeking input on her condition.

"If there are doctors out there who are interested in learning about her case and how quick it's declined that we can just find a diagnosis and fix her," Barnett said.

"I just want my wife back," Guy Midkiff said. "I want them to figure out what's wrong so they can start treating her. They can't treat her if they don't know what's wrong with her."

To donate to the family's Go Fund Me page to help pay for medical expenses, click here.

A spokesperson for Honor Health, the hospital treating Shawn-Lee Midkiff, declined to comment due to privacy laws.

This story was originally published by Jamie Warren on KNXV in Phoenix.