Everyone is aware of the fact that in his later years, John Paul II became a victim of Parkinson’s disease. It is a kind of ailment that results in the loss of cells from a particular region of the human brain. This region is responsible for the production of dopamine and is known as substantia nigra. The lack of dopamine directly affects the nerves that are responsible for activity and movement so that the patient becomes physically unstable. This disease was first identified by James Parkinson in the year 1817 and that is why the ailment is named so. It was quite unfortunate that such a reverential individual like Pope suffered from this disease in his old age.
The main problem faced by people close to the Pope was that it was a disease which neither had a sure cure method nor did anyone know the actual cause of it. Since it is almost impossible to find out the actual reason behind the death of the brain cells, there was no way this crisis could have been avoided. Usually, in these cases, the patient does not experience any prominent symptoms in the initial stage. It is only when almost 80% of the brain cells have been damaged that the symptoms and problems start becoming apparent. But, by then, it often becomes too late. The same thing happened with John Paul 2 as well. When it was found out that he was actually suffering from it, there was no way he could have been saved.
Pope John Paul II was 73 when the diagnosis revealed that he had Parkinson’s disease. The year was 1993. It was quite ironical that the man who had travelled extensively to different parts of the world in order to teach his sermons and had been an athlete in his youth became crippled and had extreme difficulty in moving from one place to another. His speech was also hampered so that he could no longer speak in a normal manner. But, even during this period, he tried to bring the attention of the world to Parkinson’s disease and searched for a possible cure. He also met several representatives of different Parkinson’s disease service organizations.
The Vatican administration, at first, did not accept that Pope was indeed suffering from the disease. It was Dr. Gianfranco Fineschi, an orthopaedic surgeon of Italian origin who first revealed the truth which was later confirmed by the Vatican administration in 2003. John Paul ii battled with the ailment for as long as 12 years. Finally, it was a urinary tract infection that took his life and he breathed his last on the 2nd of April, 2005.