During the day, 13-year old Shoiab Ahmed and 9-year old, Abdul Rashid are like any other boisterous young boys. The two kids from Pakistan, romp about and play while the sun is still shining bright. But, as dusk sets in, their energy seems to dissipate with the fading sunlight. Come evening, the two energetic boys become paralyzed and need help with even the most mundane tasks, like eating and drinking. With the sun rise, the children are again their normal energetic selves. As the two children seem to draw their energy from the sun, they are known as the “solar kids.”
The strange medical condition of the two children has put doctors in a bind. The local doctors have failed to diagnose why the “solar kids” enter a vegetative state after sunset. Their father says that the children have been like this since birth. The man also has another one-year old son with this mysterious disease, but the spotlight is on the two elder children.
Poverty and lack of empathy from neighbors has made the situation worse for the family. Two other siblings have already died after suffering from similar mysterious symptoms. The community puts the blame squarely on the child’s parents for this rare medical condition. It was only after the local newspapers highlighted the story that the boys received financial support for treatment at Lahore, and then at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad. However, the reason for paralysis after sunset still remains a mystery, and has posed a serious challenge to the medical fraternity in Pakistan.
A medicine specialist at PIMS, Javed Akram, is handling the case. In an interview with local News channel, Dr. Akram maintains that the hospital still has no clue why the boys’ bodies shut down every night. A medical board has been set up with 27 medical experts, and over 200 blood and genetic tests have been conducted. Results have also been sent to Johns Hopkins and Guy’s Hospital in London.
What perplexes experts is the fact that this mysterious disease has not been listed anywhere in medical literature. The solar kids are perhaps the only ones in the world whose metabolism is much like the sunflower.
There have been cases of periodic paralysis, but this shutdown after sunset has not been reported anywhere. But, doctors do not support the theory that their illness is related to sun as the boys have full energy even when it is raining during the day.
The medical experts are even testing the soil and air samples around the house. Doctors have conducted neurological tests called the Romberg Test for detecting defects in proprioception, and Tensilon tests to see if the children have been gripped by myasthenia gravis (MG), but nothing has yielded any results, so far. Bone marrow tests have been conducted as well.
The doctors are now planning to consult international medical groups to find a cure for this mysterious disease. Please share this story to educate your peers about this mysterious disease. Let’s hope someone in the West has seen a similar case, and can pitch in to help these kids.