The documentary strand exploring remarkable tales of human experience continues. This
edition looks at three British toddlerswith a rare condition thatmeans they are among the
smallest people in theworld. The cameras follow primordial dwarves Liam, Finn andAlex
as theymake newfriends, enduremedical procedures andmake theirway in life.
Bornwith an incredibly rare condition called microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type 2 (MOPDII), three-year-olds Liam, Finn and Alex are less than half the size of other children their age. Three of only 150 diagnosed primordial dwarves in theworld, the children face an uncertain future. Along with the physical challenges posed by everyday life, primordial dwarves and their families must deal with the risk of life-threatening brain conditions that could develop at any time.
At nearly four, Liam from Nottingham is just 29 inches tall andweighs the same as a three-month old baby. At such a size, Liam is unable to wear the same clothes as his friends but is determined not to let his stature get in hisway. “He has no fear,”
says Dad Robbie. “The drive and ambition he has is going to give him a great chance in life.”
While they know that Liam’s life may be cut short, Robbie and Jo are optimistic about their son’s future. Their hopes are given a boost when they head to London to meet Danny – one of the few primordial dwarves to have made it through to adulthood. Twenty-year-old American Danny is visiting London with his parents, providing the two families with a great opportunity to spend a day together to share stories and advice. Robbie and Jo are pleased to see tha tDanny seems to be a happy, well-adjusted young man – but Danny’s father warns that arriving at this point has been a struggle.
A few days after Liam’s encounter with Danny, another big day arrives – his fourth birthday. Wearing a specially made ‘Power Rangers’ suit, the lad enjoys his party like any other four-year-old. Seeing their son reach this milestone gives Robbie and Jomore reasons to be positive about the future. “Liam will have a job, Liam will drive a car,
Liam will fulfil his education. He will have health issues along theway, but we’ll deal with them when they come,” concludes Robbie.
At 30 iinches tall,Alex is the tallest of the threechildren, but has great difficulty feeding – one of the many side effects of his condition. Since he was a baby,Alex has been fed via a tube directly into his stomach. Concerned that he should now be eating solids, parents John and Sue take him to theAlder Hey children’s hospital in their native Liverpool for tests.However, doctors must first feed Alex food containing bariumto permit radiological examination. The procedure is distressing for the lad, but the results are good – there is no physiological problem preventingAlex from eating.
With relatively little still known about MOPDII, John and Sue are keen tomeet other people with the condition, so set about organising the UK’s first primordial dwarf convention. “Our aimis to bring everyone together so that kids can realise they are not alone,” says John. After weeks of organisation, 14 families from all over the UK and the US gather in Liverpool for the Walking with Giants convention. John and Sue are delighted that their hard work has not been in vain. “It’s a safe environment,” says one parent. “Everyone understands everyone else – everybody’s on the same wavelength.”
In Wrexham, 25-inch-tall Finn is off to hospital for her yearly MRI scan. Primordial dwarves must undergo regular checks for brain aneurisms and Moyamoya disease – two potentially fatal vascular conditions that could develop at any time. It is a tense time for parents Mel and Jon, but they try to remain positive. “We’re a bit apprehensive about the scan,” says Jon. “But you’ve just got to deal with it when it happens.” Luckily, the scan reveals no abnormalities in Finn’s brain,meaning she can concentrate on the issues affecting other girls her age – including her imminent first day at big school!