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  Doctor identifies illness that led former North Carolina Senate leader Marc Basnight to resign
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Last EditedRBH  Feb 18, 2012 12:51pm
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News DateTuesday, February 14, 2012 06:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionA neurologist treating Marc Basnight has identified the former North Carolina Senate leader's chronic health condition as a motor neuron disease that affects his brain stem, making it difficult for him to speak.

Basnight, a Dare County Democrat, is diagnosed with what's called progressive bulbar palsy, which affects nerves down to the larynx, according to Dr. Benjamin Brooks of Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

Basnight, who served a record 18 years as Senate leader, didn't have a name for his condition when he left office in January 2011. It was known for years that Basnight, now 64, had a degenerative nerve disease that affected his balance and slowed his speech.

The illness has a connection to what's commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Basnight and Brooks said in separate interviews this week it's unclear whether he has that illness. Recent media reports said he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

"I may have it, may not," Basnight said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday. Basnight said he continues to be examined by physicians to determine the cause of his health condition. Asked about what he's been told about his prognosis, he responded: "Who knows."
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