11-year-old boys looks like 70 because of mystery virus
An 11-year-old boy is left looking like a 70-year-old due to a mystery virus that does not let him gain weight on his upper body. Shaun Tebbutt from Wootton, England, was born chubby and was healthy like other normal kids until the age of 3 and half when the illness struck him. Slowly, the bonny toddler started looking wrinkly with sunken cheeks.
Shaun was diagnosed with 'ultra-rare' partial lipodystrophy which means his body has a problem making, using and storing fat. Despite a healthy appetite, the 11-year-old is unable to put weight on his upper body and has been humiliated by bullies who call him an alien, skinny or a freak.
However, refusing to give in to his condition Shaun was quoted as saying in Mirror.uk, "I want people to realise I'm normal and they shouldn't judge others by the way they look. If people bully me or stare too much I try to act like I don't care but it upsets me because it's not my fault I have this."
There are only 700 people in the UK with the rare condition and their life expectancy can be lower because of the risk of diabetes and kidney problems. "Having lipodystrophy makes me unique and special. But it's bad because it stops me doing things like swimming as I'm worried about what people think about how I look," Shaun said. He added, "It's also bad because of what it can do inside my body as I'm so skinny my skin hurts sometimes if it's really hot or really cold outside."
Shaun's parents Joanne, 46, and Brian, 48, felt helpless as their little boy got thinner. "Shaun was bonny at birth and perfect in every way. We couldn't believe what we were seeing. It was like I closed my eyes and my little boy had turned into an old man overnight. Suddenly he was more like a 70-year-old," Joanne said.
She revealed that it was still a mystery how Shaun got lipodystrophy as no one else in their family ever had it. However, according to Joanne one clue is that he had chronic constipation as a baby and needed a stoma tube in his abdomen. "He's been called things like alien, skinny or freak by children who don't know better. At every appointment, I still ask doctors if there is a cure. They just say one day we hope," Joanne said.
But, despite looking skinny, Shaun is always hungry because without fat cells his body produces less of the hormone leptin which tells the brain the body has had enough to eat. "We went in to a shop when he was younger and the shopkeeper said, 'He needs feeding up, doesn't he?' then once a dentist asked me if he was anorexic. I laughed. If only he knew how much Shaun eats," Joanne said.
But, the 11-year-old boy strength of character keeps him going. "Thankfully he has always had the most positive, upbeat personality which he still has today. Shaun's courage helps all of us cope. And to me, he is still perfect in every way," said his mother.