Stephan Hawking Defied the Odds for ALS

Stephen Hawking was given two years to live in 1963 and outlived his ALS prognosis by more than half a century. At 21, the world-renowned physicist was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease ALS.

“After my expectations had been reduced to zero, every new day became a bonus and I began to appreciate everything I did have.” Hawking stated.

ALS paralyzes victims by attacking motor nerve cells in the brain. In 1985, a severe case of pneumonia took his remaining ability to speak. But that didn’t stop his incredibly successful career. The Cambridge professor traveled to every continent, made groundbreaking discoveries on black holes, and even experienced weightlessness in a zero-gravity flight.

His best-selling books have educated millions of readers on outer space and the origins of the universe. 76-year-old Hawking passed away at his home in Cambridge England on March 14, 2018.

In a statement to The Guardian, his family said, “[Our father] was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. He once said; ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

Roughly 6,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. Most people with ALS live 2-5 years after symptoms develop and only about 5% of people with ALS live 20 years or more beyond their diagnosis.

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