Gyorgy Levay, Fulbright Scholar

George LeVay

Hungary native George Levay, a Fulbright Scholar, overcame meningitis to develop a prosthetic control.


I’m here on a Fulbright scholarship. I work specifically on prosthetics control, and my research involves pattern recognition-based control of prosthetics.

It’s easier to look back now and talk about the meningitis. I was very lucky. I have no internal organ or brain damage from the bacteria. Both my father and mother were constantly there, supporting me, and my friends, too. There were so many things that worked in my favor that I got through it.

By the time I got to the hospital, I was almost completely out of it. They realized my internal organs were shutting down. They put me in an artificial coma.

After a week, they had to wake me up because I contracted pneumonia. That’s when they started removing first the skin, then doing smaller amputations, then larger amputations. The first instinct of the doctors normally would be to cut off everything. But my father—he’s not a doctor but he’s very well versed in medicine—he didn’t let them amputate everything. And after two months, I walked home.

I was basically bandaged all over, but those bandages had to be replaced every two days. I wanted to die a lot of times. But my psychiatrist took me on and took a lot of risks with me; for instance, she ordered the doctors to sedate me every time I was rebandaged.

My depression was over pretty rapidly, in about 7 or 8 months. I reached the point where I had to decide: okay, I’m either going to sit and stare at a wall my entire life—because that was an option, and no one would have faulted me for that—or I do something about it. So I finished my bachelor’s degree and shifted into robotics and control theory.

I was very happy when I got the Fulbright scholarship and was accepted to Hopkins; I'm finishing school in May.

We had a lot of fun developing the hands-free controller. The most enjoyable part was taking it from idea to where it is now. This was the first such experience I’d had, and it was really great. For me, this would be unimaginable in Hungary simply because there isn’t the money or education to allow people to do these kinds of projects and work on them until they’re done.

I think the main takeaway from my time here has been seeing how working on a team, listening to and considering all opinions can lead to creating something that could not have been possible individually. The whole experience will stay with me. It’s been a life changing two years.


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1 Comment

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J. Baker April 21, 2017 at 4:38 am

Beautiful story. Beautiful brave young man. God bless.


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