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Disabled Australia Cop Comes To Chicago For Rehab

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Ryan Marron, a police officer from Perth, Australia, traveled to Chicago to visit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for treatment after he was bitten by a mosquito, resulting in encephalitis that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. (Credit: CBS)

Ryan Marron, a police officer from Perth, Australia, traveled to Chicago to visit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for treatment after he was bitten by a mosquito, resulting in encephalitis that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. (Credit: CBS)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – It happened in the Australian wilderness. A young police officer was bitten by a mosquito and became immobilized, a quadriplegic who also cannot speak.

Now he has traveled from down under to Chicago. Here, police officer Ryan Marron hopes he can regain what was lost. CBS 2’s Mike Parker has his story.

The Chicago Police Department’s Pipe and Drum Corps and members of the department’s Sergeants’ Association marched through O’Hare International Airport with a new arrival in America on Wednesday — disabled Perth, Australia, police officer Ryan Marron.

He and his loved ones hope that his paralysis can somehow be cured at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. His life partner Toni Misitano has been at his side throughout his ordeal.

“I’m just hoping for Ryan to be able to regain his independence and get back to work as a serving police officer,” she said. “It’s his love, it’s his career and we’re just trying very badly to get out life back.”

A year ago, in the Australian outback, a strong and healthy police constable – Marron – was bitten by a mosquito. He contracted encephalitis and rapidly lost the ability to move and to speak. So on Wednesday, he ended a grueling 30-hour flight from Australia to Chicago, a journey of faith and hope that he can be made whole again.

Misitano said of the Rehabilitation Institute, “They’ve been rated number one for the past 21 years, and I think if anyone is going a difference in Ryan’s recovery, it’s going to be here.”

Marron’s brother Jeremy also made the long trip.

“Let’s hope this is a really good beginning of another sort of life journey for Ryan,” he said.

As Ryan Marron sat in a Chicago Police vehicle, waiting for his first trip into the city, he wept as Toni Misitano wiped his tears.

Marron begins his therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute on Monday. It is believed he’ll be a patient in the Institute’s recently opened “Ability Lab.” It is the first of its kind anywhere.

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