While Allistair was in college, he volunteered at a hospital near campus. One day, he saw a sick child dragging a medical pole through the hallways of the facility. When he asked about this, he learned that the child was battling cancer. Soon after, he changed his major to pre-med, determined to help kids with similar illnesses. Eventually, Allistair became a hematologist and dedicated his career to improving treatments for sickle cell disease.
The first sign that he might have a condition was the feeling of weakness in his hand. Allistair then started to experience some other early signs of ALS/MND, including difficulty speaking. He was quickly diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease, which is commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Shortly after his ALS/MND diagnosis, Allistair’s wife Dana insisted that he bank his voice. With support from the Gleason Foundation, Allistair used Acapela’s my-own-voice solution to create a digital copy of his voice. He read 50 sentences into a computer to capture his accent and tone in different syllables, which would become the building blocks of his digital voice. He also banked a few of the phrases he uses most often. Now that he has lost his natural voice, he’s grateful to Dana for urging him to bank it. He pairs it with a couple of text to speech apps on his I-Series. “It feels like it’s me talking,” Allistair says.
For Allistair, it was hard to be a patient after being a doctor. After he started to lose speech and mobility, he continued to practice medicine for as long as he could from home. Eventually, he had to retire. However, even in the later stages of ALS/MND, he attended conferences and peer reviewed articles within the hematology community using his I-Series. The Amercian Society of Hematology now gives an award in his name to the highest performing participant in its research program for minority medical students.