A 25-year-old man who is trapped inside the body of a 12-year-old boy because of a very rare condition says he looks in the mirror and hates what he sees looking back at him.
Tomasz Nadolski, from Olesnica, Poland, suffers from a rare genetic condition known as Fabry disease, which affects his kidneys, heart and skin.
He said: “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.”
Tomasz’s problems began at the age of seven, when he began experiencing severe pain in his stomach, hands and feet and was vomiting after every meal.
He recalled how his cruel classmates would say: “Skeletor, you’ve left Auschwitz!”
He said doctors initially suspected his symptoms were of a mental illness rather than a physical one and just encouraged him to eat more.
Tomasz said: “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.”
And he said his family relationships have been badly affected by his condition because they are unable to get past his child-like 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.”
Tomasz said that, predictably, most people outside of his family also doubt his age because of his appearance.
He said: “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.”
His severe stomach problems mean Tomasz cannot eat at all and has to be hooked up to a drip 20 hours a day to ensure he gets the nourishment he needs.
He also still experiences chronic pain in his limbs and requires painkillers, including morphine, to help suppress it.
His feet are so deformed than Tomasz even has to wear specially designed shoes.
Marcin Godek, an orthopaedic technician, said: “Every step with bare feet gives him great pain. We try to relieve his feet as much as possible.”
Tomasz added: “I feel pain in my joints, bones, muscles. Every inch of my body hurts me. I am not able to sleep and live normally.”
And while Tomasz lives on benefits which are equivalent to £160 ($204) a month, the treatment for the disease costs £170,000 ($216,000) per year.
Thankfully, the company that provides the drug has agreed to provide Tomasz with the treatment for free.