Meet Olivia Farnsworth, a British girl who doesn’t feel any pain and never feels the need to eat or sleep. At age seven, she’s able to go for days without sleeping and eating, and comes away from terrible injuries with nonchalance. In fact, she was recently run over and dragged down the street by a car, but she casually walked away from the accident without shedding a tear!
Olivia has doctors baffled. They know she suffers from a condition caused by something called chromosome 6 deletion, but this is the first time they’ve witnessed anyone displaying three rare symptoms at once. According to her mother Niki Trepak, the little girl has no sense of danger because she literally cannot feel pain, and neither does she feel the need to sleep or eat. Her doctors have nicknamed her ‘bionic girl’, while her mother says she’s “made of steel.”
“She got run over and dragged down the street by a car and she didn’t complain,” Niki said, shortly after the accident. “It was horrendous, I don’t think it’s something I will ever get over. I was screaming and all my other children were screaming as she ran out. But Olivia was just like, ‘What’s going on?’ She just got up and started walking back to me.”
Niki also added that Olivia should have been severely injured by the impact as she had a tire mark over her chest, but she got away with only losing skin on her toe and hip. Her doctors think that she was able to escape injury because she didn’t tense up like other people normally would under such circumstances. And this isn’t the first time Olivia has acted strangely calm after getting hurt. “She also once fell badly and ripped her lip off and didn’t say anything,” Niki recalled. “She had to have major plastic surgery to correct it.”
Getting Olivia to eat right is also a challenge, because she doesn’t get hungry “She became a really fussy eater and would have nothing but milk shakes,” Niki said. “At the moment, it’s chicken noodles. She lived on butter sandwiches for about a year. She doesn’t feel hunger so I can’t threaten her like other children by saying if you don’t eat that you’ll not get this as she isn’t bothered.”
Her third ‘superpower’ is that she doesn’t feel tired. “She once went three consecutive days and nights with no sleep,” said Niki. “As a single mum of five it’s really hard. She’s never tired. We have to give her medication to get her to sleep.”
Although she’s a happy child most of the time, Niki says that Olivia can suffer from violent outbursts from time to time. “She’s head-butted me, punched and kicked me and can have outbursts of swearing which can be embarrassing if we’re out in public,” the mother-of-five said. “It happened in a park the other week and people were wondering what’s going on. They don’t know what’s wrong. Everybody laughs because she’s so wild and extreme. She says let’s jump off here and all the other children are like, ‘That’s way too high!’”
“This is why I want to raise awareness on chromosome 6 problems. To look at Olivia you don’t know anything’s wrong with her.” There are apparently 15,000 registered cases of chromosome disorder worldwide, but only 100 of them have the ‘6p’ deletion that Olivia has.
“There may not be anybody out there the same as Olivia,” said Dr. Beverly Searle, former research biologist and chief executive of chromosome disorder support group Unique. “You can’t treat chromosome disorders but what we can do is alleviate the symptoms. We try to find matches and provide information for families, which can be great for friendship and local support.”
Niki insists that her daughter isn’t a freak – she says that despite her superhuman toughness, Olivia is the most loving among her five children. “She’ll be the first to share sweets with you. She’s got the best personality. She’s just crazy, but in a good way.”