A 25-year-old man says he feels trapped in a child’s body because he suffers from a rare disease that makes him look like a 12-year-old boy.
Tomasz Nadolski, from the town of Olesnica in south-western Poland’s Lower Silesian Voivodeship, suffers from a rare genetic condition known as Fabry disease.
“I am 25-years-old and I would like to look like a man of my age. I hate this boy who I see every day in the mirror, because it is not me,” he said.
Mr Nadolski’s problems began when he was seven-years-old and began vomiting after every meal and started suffering from pains in his stomach, hands and feet.
He recalled: “Friends at school would say: ‘Skeletor, you’ve left Auschwitz!'”
Doctors were unable to work out what was wrong with him for a long time, suspecting his problems might be mental rather than physical.
“My parents were torn. They saw something going on, but they believed the doctors that I was mentally ill and that I should just eat more,” he added.
Mr Nadolski says the condition had affected his relationships with his relatives as they still treat him as a child because of his appearance.
He said: “When I’m at home, I’m just sitting in my room and spending my time alone.”
“I feel lonely and I lack the support of my family and this is how it has been for many years. The disease has destroyed our family relationships.”
He says the illness also affected his everyday life as people refused to accept his real age.
“I often suffer sad situations. When I show the ID card in the office or if the police stop me, they accuse me of having a fake one,” he said.
Fabry disease, which can affect many parts of the body including the kidneys, heart and skin, results from the build up of a particular type of fat, called globotriaosylceramide, in the body’s cells.
It is a type of lysosomal storage disorder.
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Fortunately, the manufacturer of the expensive treatment for the disease has agreed to provide him with the drug for free.
He lives on benefits worth the equivalent of $280 a month while the medicine costs nearly $299,000 a year.
Mr Nadolski’s severe stomach problems mean he cannot eat and he has to be attached to a drip 20 hours a day so he can take in enough nourishment.
He also needs painkillers, including morphine patches, to help him cope with the pain he feels. His feet are so deformed that he has to wear special shoes.
He explained: “I feel pain in my joints, bones, muscles. Every inch of my body hurts me. I am not able to sleep and live normally.”
Marcin Godek, an orthopaedic technician, confirmed: “Every step with bare feet gives him great pain. We try to relieve his feet as much as possible.