(MAPLETON, IA) - Imagine living life without pain. It sounds like a good thing at first, but a five-year-old Mapleton, Iowa boy is living proof it's not.
It's an extremely rare condition with only a few dozen cases in the U.S. But Isaac Brown and his family know first-hand what it's like to be deprived of a normal life.
When you first meet five-year-old Isaac Brown he seems like an ordinary kid enjoying the simple things in life. But as an infant, the Browns realized something wasn't quite right. "From probably several months old to 17 months, it was the normal learning how to walk, falling down, hitting your head on the corner of something, falling down the steps. The normal things that would normally cause him to cry and he never did," said Carrie Brown, Isaac's mother. Then, the unthinkable. "He put his hand on a hot burner and the kids, Jacob, had to physically remove him from the burner. He had every pad of his finger and his whole hand was covered in blisters. It really didn't seem to bother him," said Carrie. It scared Isaac's parents so much they took him to the doctor. Specialists in Omaha did MRIs and an EEG and found nothing.
However, after hearing more about the incidents from his parents, doctors eventually diagnosed Isaac with 'Congenital Insensitivity to Pain'. The doctors in Omaha recommended Isaac get genetic testing, but that costs more than $70,000. "So we went along life watching him carefully knowing that they believed at that time that he had insensitivity to pain," said Carrie. "Anytime he might injure himself we need to consider having an X-ray or something done because he may not be able to tell us if it hurts," said Randy Brown, Isaac's father. But a few months later another incident happened. "He had taken a toenail clipper and clipped his face and when he got to his eyelashes, he ripped out a section of his eyelashes and continued to go with the clipper. I just lost it at that point. I'm like 'How do I?' He is hurting himself now on purpose," said Carrie. In their desperation the Browns turned to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "We've always trusted that God would take care of us and take care of Isaac," said Carrie. Carrie prayed the clinic would do research on Isaac's condition. Those prayers were answered. "I started balling and I looked at Randy and he's like shocked that they're gonna do this for free. So they took our blood. They took Isaac's blood. Didn't they? And they're doing genetic testing," said Carrie. But two and a half years after donating Isaac's blood. The clinic is still looking for a mutated gene in Isaac's DNA.
Thursday night we'll tell you about another symptom of the disease that makes Isaac's life even tougher and the search to find a cure for all of this.