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Polio robs Joni Mitchell's joy

by Diane Albright
April 1997
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FOLK singer Joni Mitchell's joy of finally finding her long-lost daughter reportedly has been tempered by a new battle with polio — which cruelly put her in a wheelchair when she was 9 years old.

The 52-year-old flower child had her only daughter out of wedlock during a college affair with fellow Calgary, Canada, art student Brad MacMath, now 56 — and had to give little Kelly up for adoption 32 years ago.

GLOBE revealed last year how she's been in a race against time to find her girl and finally hit paydirt when Kelly was found — it turns out she's a stunning model who looks exactly like Joni did in her 20s.

"She's blonde, blue-eyed and looks like me," Joni told a pal. "It's eerie — like looking in the mirror and turning back the hands of time. I'm just glad she's been found. I'm hoping we can have a good relationship after all these years. When we meet, I want it to be in private. I don't want a big circus. I can't wait to meet her — we have so much to talk about."

Sadly, one of the things Joni will have to tell her long-lost daughter about is the grueling Post Polio Syndrome she is now battling, according to a report.

The devastating disease can strike victims later in life with the same intense symptoms they had in their youths. Joni made a full recovery when she first had polio as a child in the '50s — but she could be facing life as a cripple confined to a wheelchair. "Post Polio Syndrome is no way related to the virus, but it can be very severe," Dr. Samuel Katz, professor of pediatrics at Durham, N.C.'s Duke University, tells GLOBE.

"The muscles that worked overtime for the ones weakened by the virus suddenly run out of gas.

"A person who suffered weak legs from polio again may reach a point now where once again they can't walk.

"Unfortunately, there's no cure for this."

But no matter how desperate her health may be, Joni is overjoyed to find her Kelly.

"I wondered about her all my life," Joni told a close pal. "I wanted to know who she is, how she is and where she is. "I can't wait to meet her."

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