Man diagnosed with rare disease takes 2 life-changing steps

Jacob Newbern has Guillain-Barre syndrome

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a rare disease left half of his body immovable, a Jacksonville man is taking two life-changing steps.

Jacob Newbern said it began when he felt numbness in his body.

"I was having some numbness and weakness in my legs," Newbern said. "I felt like I had pins and needles in my feet."

On Nov. 6, he rushed to the Orange Park Medical Center. A day later, he couldn't walk.

The 27-year-old was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves.

For more than four years, Newbern and Mary Baltar, his girlfriend, have been walking through life side-by-side with their growing family of three girls. Baltar was shocked when she heard the diagnosis.

"It's definitely been difficult seeing someone you care about go through something like that," she said. "You can't do anything to help them. Just be there."

Newbern was told it would take six months to a year to recover. 26 days after beginning extensive rehabilitation, he walked for the first time. His doctor was amazed.

While taking his first steps, he got down on one knee and asked Baltar to be his wife.

"When he stood up after I said yes, it was, it was amazing to see him stand up," Baltar said.

The next big step Newbern plans to take in 2018 is out of the rehabilitation center and back into his home with his fiancée their children.

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