BY NICOLAS FERNANDES
Meet the ‘CHINA DOLL’ boy who has suffered more than 500 fractures from everyday movements like hugging his siblings and smiling at his mum.
Reiko Quinlan, six, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, suffers from Osteogeneses Imperfecta Type Three, which caused five fractures during birth and 80 in the first year of his life.
Triggered by an anomaly in the bone collagen, the rare condition referred to as Brittle Bone Disease has left him the size of a two-and-a-half-year-old and unable to walk.
The two-foot tall (30 cm) boy’s femurs are even more fragile than the rest of his bones and have cracked about 100 times.
Reiko has even suffered injuries from sitting up and even not moving at all, which he parents treat with medical equipment.
He has had 11 surgeries to repair broken bones and put titanium rods in his arms and legs, with his most recent fixing a rod in his leg that popped out of place.
Despite his difference he longs for nothing more than to be ordinary like any other child his age, often not confessing when he’s injured himself until he is at home.
His mother Jessica Quinlan, 31, a receptionist, said: “It doesn’t take much. One day, he put his arm around his brother’s back and fractured it.
“Another time, he turned his head to smile at me and I could hear the bone in his arm cracking.
“A lot of times there’s no way to prevent it. He doesn’t have to do anything for an injury to happen.
“Once he hit 300, we stopped counting, but it’s definitely more than 500 at this point.
“He uses a wheelchair and has a walker to get around school.
“He is definitely fracturing less as he gets older. Hopefully it keeps getting better.”
While dozens of his fractures have been caused by nothing, Reiko can surprisingly hit himself on a hard surface and not suffer injuries.
Jessica said: He’ll fracture a bone while sitting still on the couch, but then he’ll bang his legs into a wall and nothing will happen.
“We can’t even guess what each day will bring. We just have to be prepared for the worst.”
He frequently tries to be extra brave and stays quiet about his injuries.
Often, he will crack a bone at school and won’t speak up until he gets home.
Jessica said: “He tries to hide them because he wants to be a normal kid so badly. There’s a lot of fractures we don’t know about until he he’s getting an x-ray a few weeks later.
“He’ll just tell us that he didn’t notice it or that it didn’t bother him.
“I also think he worries that his classmates will get in trouble if he tells a teacher that they caused the fracture.”
Due to his limitations that see him injuring five bones a week, Reiko’s hobbies are restricted to video games and board games.
While Jessica does worry about her son’s survival chances, she beliers he is gifted and doesn’t have any doubts about him being successful.
She said: “He would love to play sports if he could, but he’s become a really big gamer.
“It doesn’t take much for kids with this condition to pass away. I’m constantly worrying about that.
“He picks up on things very easily and everybody loves him. I know he will be successful with anything he tries.”
Osteogeneses Imperfecta Type Three affects one in 20,000, according to Dr. Francis Glorieux, chairman of the Medical Advisory Council at the Osteogeneses Imperfecta Foundation.
“It is caused by an anomality in the collagen of the bone. The collagen keeps the bone hard so that it can function properly. When the anomality is present, it causes the bones to become brittle.”
Dr. Francis added: “In severe cases, rods can be put in the legs, arms and spine to keep the bones straight even when they fracture.
“One thing that is striking is the resilience of these children. Despite their limitations, they are extraordinary. I have several patients who go to university every day on their wheelchairs.
For more information, visit www.oif.org