Former NFL Player Fred McNeill Confirmed as First Diagnosis of CTE in Living Patient

Researchers published, what they say is the first case of a living person identified with the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

While unnamed in the study, lead author Dr. Bennet Omalu confirmed to CNN that the subject of the case was former NFL player, Fred McNeill — who died in 2015.

Omalu is credited with first discovering CTE in professional football players. The only way to definitively diagnose the disease is with a brain exam after death.

The discovery was first made in 2012 using an experimental brain scan that can trace a signature protein of CTE called tau. The case study was published in the journal Neurosurgery this week.

‘It looked like just depression’

Omalu first presented these findings exclusively to CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta in 2016. McNeill’s wife, Tia, and his two sons, Gavin and Fred Jr., told Gupta then, that they saw Fred transform from a fun loving family man at the center of their lives into a man who was dealing with symptoms of memory loss, anger and depression that tore their family apart.

“There are some times where the father is the stronghold in the family, or the anchor. If you lose that, everything kind of falls apart. That’s kind of what happened for us. It looked like financial issues at first; it looked like marital issues, and they separated; then it looked like just depression,” Gavin told Gupta.

CTE is known for plaguing people with Alzheimer’s like symptoms such as memory loss, rage, mood swings, and in some cases, suicidal ideation.

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SOURCE: CNN, Nadia Kounang