Tiny toddler has such a rare genetic condition that doctors don't know what will happen to him
Only five known sufferers of chromosome ring 18 in UK and 150 worldwide
13:16 GMT, 3 April 2012
Rare: George Donlan has an unusual genetic disorder that has only 150 known sufferers worldwide
A tiny toddler has such a rare genetic condition that his parents have no idea what his future will hold.
George Donlan, who turns three in June, was diagnosed with the extremely unusual condition chromosome ring 18 after he was born.
It means he has developed at a much slower rate and wears clothes meant for a nine-month old baby even though he turns three in June.
George also had problems communicating – another hallmark of the condition, which has only 150 known sufferers worldwide.
His mother Cheryl, from Trafford, Manchester, said: 'George can get frustrated and shout when we’re out and about but people just stare and think he’s being naughty.
'He seems to be developing more complex issues as he gets older. He can’t communicate with us and it’s an ongoing battle.'
George also has to be fed through a tube in his stomach and faces regular trips to hospital for tests and treatment.
Although he can’t speak, he is overcoming his problems by learning sign
language and has learned to walk by holding on to furniture.
His parents said one of the worst things about the condition is not knowing how it will develop. Although sufferers experience some similar symptoms such as impaired growth and skeletal problems each person with the condition is different.
There is currently no cure and doctors simply don't know if it will affect George's lifespan. Although many sufferers have reached adulthood, there are at least two recorded cases of premature death.
Uncertain future: Doctors say they do not know how the genetic condition will affect George, pictured with his mother Cheryl, when he gets older
Chromosomes come in 23 pairs and are made up of DNA – the building blocks of life. Most look like long rods when examined under the microscope.
However, sometimes pieces from the arms of one chromosome are missing and they end up fusing together to create a ring shape. This can cause significant problems if chromosome 18 is affected as it plays an important role in growth and development.
A ring chromosome occurs when the two ends of the chromosome fuse to form a circle
Common symptoms aside from delayed growth and language development include hearing loss, vision problems and heart defects.
George's family, including his great-uncle TV doctor Dr Chris Steele, have now rallied around to raise 30,000 to fund vital research into the illness.
More than 100 of his family, friends and supporters will climb Mount Snowdon as part of the campaign.
Mrs Donlan, 40, who has six other children, said: 'I’m overwhelmed by everyone who has agreed to climb Snowdon and I owe them all a big thank-you.
'It’s about raising awareness and money for research. It will be an amazing day.'
For more information on Chromosome 18 visit www.chromosome18.org to donate click here