A British boy suffering from a disorder that turns proteins into toxins is forced to supplement his meager diet with four daily servings of the U.K. sports drink Lucozade – a snack that amounts to 33 teaspoons of sugar.
10-year-old Archie Koncher was born with propionic acidemia (PA) – an incredibly rare genetic disorder that prevents his body from processing certain proteins and lipids properly. The absence or malfunction of an enzyme called PCC causes consumed protein to build up harmful substances, which may subsequently do damage to the heart, bones, liver, and brain. For Archie, this means consuming no more than 25 grams of proteins each day.
“He can’t have too much protein. When we go to McDonald’s for a treat, he has to have the chips, and only half the burger, with no bun,” said Archie’s father, Dave. “For him, an egg is a treat. He can’t have any more. It’s heart-wrenching.”
To alleviate fatigue and hunger pangs, Archie has come to rely on the European Gatorade-analogue Lucozade, which high sugar and electrolyte content provides him the energy he cannot get from real food. He now drinks four 13 fl oz bottles every day. Although their son’s habit costs them upwards of $200 each month, Dave and his wife Salli believe the sports beverage is what keeps him going.
“If he is starting to feel a bit tired, maybe after he has been running around, it will just pick him up again straight away,” Dave said, speaking to The Daily Mail. “When he is well you wouldn’t know there was anything different about him, but he is about the height of an eight-year-old simply because he is eating so much less.”
“We wish we could get it on prescription,” he added.
Initially, doctors thought Archie was autistic, as he did not seem to respond to the world around him. The lethargy wasn’t explained until after his second birthday, when a routine blood and urine test revealed the inherited disorder. Since then, he has been forced to avoid high protein foods and limit his diet to small portions of carbohydrates.
“We are very lucky he is still alive - it is a silent killer,” Archie’s mother told reporters. “We don’t know what the future holds but we are just happy that he is a happy little boy and loving life.”