Western Australia’s Nicky Freeman may hold the secret to eternal youth, but his mum tells John Parrish the secret to happiness is just as important.
He’s a 40-year-old who looks and acts like a 10-year-old, but man-child Nicky Freeman could help unlock the secrets of near-eternal youth.
Nicky has a virtually unknown condition that sees him age only one year for every four, trapping him forever in the body of a boy.
“If the average life span is 70, it means Nicky could live to be 280,” says his mother Kayleen, who lives in Western Australia.
But while Nicky may hold the secret to the fountain of youth, he has paid a tragic price for his condition. Unable to see or speak, Nicky, who began going through puberty at 30, lives in a home for disabled adults.
Doctors can give his mother very few answers and there is little hope of a cure.
Kayleen fears Nicky’s rough entry into the world may have played a key role in the symptoms her eldest child began to exhibit.
“During pregnancy, I developed a strong allergic reaction to eggs,” Kayleen, a former nurse, recalls. “If I was in a kitchen when an egg was cracked, my eyes would swell.
“My GP prescribed a strong anti-histamine which, 40 years ago, I didn’t think anything of. Then, during the birth, the obstetrician fumbled with a scalpel, slicing deeply into Nicky’s fontanelle [the soft crown of a newborn’s skull].
“Later, I wondered if the medication or the injury could have affected my son.”
For the next year-and-a-half, Nicky seemed much like any other baby, but there were two differences that stood out in his mother’s mind from an early age.
“He was incredibly strong – I could barely hold him down,” she remembers. “And he wouldn’t reach for toys like other kids.”
Concerned her son may have an eye condition, Kayleen consulted a specialist.
“Tests showed Nicky was blind. His optical nerve had atrophied,” she says. Also, her son’s pituitary gland, which helps control a child’s growth, was found to be operating very slowly.
Read the full story in this week's Woman's Day, on sale May 17, 2010.