By Sanjay Pandey
INCREDIBLE IMAGES have emerged from India this week showing the tragic story of Manpreet Singh, the tiny 23-year-old man who is trapped in the body of an eleven-pound baby.
The ‘pint-sized man’, as he has been labelled by his neighbours, stopped growing after a year. Manpreet needs to be taken care of like toddler and carried everywhere by his aunt Lakhwinder Kaur, 42.
Manpreet, who was born in 1995, was a healthy baby when he was born in Punjab, India. But before he could start to walk or talk, his growth suddenly stopped.
Doctors initially told father Jagtar Singh (50), a small-time farmer, that he would start growing again.
But when that didn’t happen, the doctors suggested that it could be a hormone disorder. The family is still at a loss as to why Manpreet’s growth suddenly stopped. Manpreet has one sister, Jaspreet who has just turned 17 and a brother Mangaldeep. Both of them are physically and mentally developed.
The doctors in India are baffled by his condition and are unable to come up with a proper diagnosis of the condition.
MK Bhadu, a medical officer at a state-run facility at Hisar, said: “The patient’s growth stopped due to some hormonal imbalance. A child begins to develop mentally and physically from the age of three. If his body is not developing, the parents should take him to a better medical facility and get him treated.”
Scientists, however, believe that Manpreet could have Laron Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that is believed to have affected just 300 people across the globe.
A third of people afflicted with this rare genetic condition live in remote villages in Ecuador’s southern Loja province.
People living with Laron lack a hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor 1, or IGF-1, which stimulates the cell to grow and divide to form new cells.
Unable to take a proper care of the grown-up toddler, his family sent him to the care of his uncle and aunty in Hisar, 112km away from his Mansa in Punjab.
Manpreet, who has been living with his maternal uncle and aunt in Hisar, 112km away from his biological parents, is attracting a lot of audience because of his physical and cognitive similarity to a one-year-old toddler.
He was later diagnosed with a deficiency of growth hormone due to which his mental and physical growth stalled in a year.
Locals lovingly play with him and consider him an incarnation of God.
Manpreet has swollen palms, feet and a big face with saggy skin. He fumbles a few words. He primarily communicates through gestures. He can laugh, scream and cry but cannot keep a conversation.
Manpreet’s maternal uncle and aunt take care of him as their own son and enjoy his mischief. Karanvir Singh, Manpreet’s 45-year-old uncle said: “Manpreet giggles like a toddler and seldom gets sad. It’s only when the dogs or any other animal makes a sound, he gets terrified and cries. He is a delightful child and gestures the guests with his hands to sit, and tries to befriend them.”
Aunt Lakhwinder Kaur pitched in for their ‘doting doll’. “Manpreet loves milk cake and eats roti (flattened bread). He loves his morning tea and eats only one or two rotis a day without any mischief.”
At times, Manpreet can be very mischievous. “Though he only speaks in monosyllables like maa (mom) and mama (uncle), he learned the skills to communicate through gestures. He has also become an expert in mimicking people. He would greet a guest by shaking hands with them and request them to take a seat,” says Lakhwinder.
Manpreet loves to mimic people. Whenever his cousin and uncle offer prayers before driving a car, Manpreet copies them. He tries to make different sounds and entertain people. Right now he is a star and whenever his cousin Mandeep takes him out on a bicycle, people follow them to have a glance at him.
Spoilt by the love and affection of his uncle and aunt, Manpreet doesn’t miss his parents at all.
“We have sent him back to his parents several times, but he won’t stay with them. Manpreet would stop eating and keep crying all the time there. But when he is sent back to us again, he would turn into the same bubbly and joyful kid. We love this little bundle of joy so much that the idea of letting him go makes my heart sink,” said the doting aunt.
Worried about his future, the family has been consulting doctors in the metro cities.
“We took him to a few doctors but his condition could not get any better. We have accepted his fate and in a way are happy to have him as his cheerfulness enlightens the environment,” said Mandeep, cuddling his baby brother in his arms.
The doctors have said that they need to do a proper investigation of his condition before being able to diagnose it.
Uncle Karanvir Singh and his son work as drivers and make barely enough to run the family. “We don’t have enough funds to take him to a better doctor or hospital. We appeal to the kind people of the internet to help us raise funds for Manpreet’s treatment,” said Karanvir, underlining the cost of the investigation and preliminary treatment would be around Rs 500,000 (just under £5,400).
A crowd-funding campaign has been started in Ketto, India’s version of GoFundMe, to raise funds for his treatment. Campaign link: www.ketto.org/manpreetakababa