Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body except red blood cells. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised. Many people, Órán included, have precious little time to live their lives because of this progressive disease. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common.
Diseases of the mitochondria appear to cause the most damage to cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidney and the endocrine and respiratory systems.
Depending on which cells are affected, symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastro-intestinal disorders and swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual/hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection
If you can imagine a battery that powers each and every cell in your body, cells that tell the vocal chords to stretch to make sound and speak, cells that tell the pores to open so that you cool down, cells that adjust the focus of your eyes so you see clearer, cells that make food move through your digestive system, cells that help you think about more than one thing at a time. Now imagine that the batteries in each and every one of the billions of cells in your body are only operating at 10% capacity. You can only operate the essential functions of your body, now imagine that as time goes on your cells are dying quicker and not repairing themselves fast enough. Suddenly you can't walk, you're not growing properly, you can't speak and tell people that you're constantly tired or that you're in sever pain, you can't hold your head upright nerves in your brain are misfiring and you're going through terrifying seizures.
This is what our wee Órán goes through each day at only 3 years of age. And you know what, it's going to get harder.
Please do spread awareness for Órán and the hundreds more like him that suffer so badly from this debilitating disease. Visit the links page to read and find out more.