'My son can't feel pain - he walked for DAYS on a broken leg'

Nine-year-old Zach Skitmore of Wymondham, who has congenital insensitivity to pain, with his parents

Nine-year-old Zach Skitmore of Wymondham, who has congenital insensitivity to pain, with his parents Donna and Stephen, who are raising funds for possible treatment in America. - Credit: Denise Bradley

To most people the idea of not being able to feel pain is akin to being a superhero.

But for one little boy it means his body can suffer immensely without him even knowing.

Nine-year-old Zach Skitmore has congenital insensitivity to pain meaning he cannot feel physical damage to his body.

He began showing signs of the extremely rare disease - of which there are only 300 cases documented worldwide - when he was just ten months old. 

Nine-year-old Zach Skitmore of Wymondham, who has congenital insensitivity to pain, and his parents

Even though Zach is unable to feel pain, his body is still put under extreme stress. - Credit: Denise Bradley

The nine-year-old lives in Wymondham with his parents Donna and Stephen who noticed their baby boy never reacted when they might have expected him to cry.

However their first real shock came when Zach was a toddler, Donna explained: "He was playing hide and seek and leant on a radiator.

"He burned his arm and he had a massive blister but he had no reaction to the pain.”

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His parents searched everywhere for answers, begging medical professionals to have their son assessed. 

Then when Zach was six it was discovered he had broken his leg but was walking on it for more than 48 hours.

She said: “It was only when his leg got incredibly swollen and hot and I took him to the hospital that we found out he has fractured it.” 

Other instances saw him dislocate his hip and then pop it back into his joint without any medication.

Nine-year-old Zach Skitmore of Wymondham, who has congenital insensitivity to pain, with his parents

Zach is known for being a happy child who enjoys reading and writing. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Not long after Zach was sent for genetic testing and it was determined he had the rare condition.

Donna said: “In some ways it was a relief to get the diagnosis as we didn’t have any answers previously.

"We were so shocked when it was confirmed and it all became very real."

"Finding out how rare this condition is was also very frightening as we quickly realised so many medical professionals aren't aware of it," she added.

The mum-of-one said often people confuse his condition with not being able to be injured.

The teacher said: “His body is still under extreme stress even if he can’t feel it. 

Nine-year-old Zach Skitmore of Wymondham, who has congenital insensitivity to pain, and his parents

Nine-year-old Zach Skitmore of Wymondham, who has congenital insensitivity to pain has been in and out of hospitals for most of his life. - Credit: Denise Bradley

"There's other things we have to consider now which people don't even think about. We have to check if his food is too hot because he won’t feel it burning him.  

“We also have to ensure he is giving himself enough time to recover from his injuries because we can't gage it from his reactions.  

“If it is something internal our main indicator is that he has a high temperature.” 

She added it is an "immense relief" that the little lad enjoys reading and gaming as opposed to rough-and-tumble sports. 

“He is very kind and caring - he's got an excellent sense of humour. He'd like to go into gaming or reading as a career when he's older.

"Zach is also autistic so he copes with a lot of things which are difficult for him, he is a superstar.  

“My biggest fear is that when he gets to high school people will learn about his condition and test his limits,” she added. 

Zach is currently also battling with Charcot's joints which means the bones in his joints - namely his feet and knee - are likely to break or dislocate. 

If not treated early this can lead to infection, deformity and even amputation.  

Nine-year-old Zach Skitmore of Wymondham, who has congenital insensitivity to pain, with his parents

nine year old Zach Skitmore has dislocated his hip and had it put back in without any anaesthetic. - Credit: Denise Bradley

A team of rheumatologists and orthopaedic doctors have told the heartbroken parents they will need to find an oversees specialist.

Donna said: “We have found an surgeon in the U.S. - Dr David Feldman.  

“He has seen patients with the same condition as Zach and other parents have said this doctor is a miracle worker.” 

Donna hopes that Zach will learn how to manage his condition and that the trip to America will ensure he keeps his mobility.  

Nine-year-old Zach Skitmore of Wymondham, who has congenital insensitivity to pain, with his parents

Zach needs the trip to America so a doctor can try to save his mobility. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Zach’s parents are currently raising money to cover both his trip to America and any treatment he may need.  

Donna said: “It's likely to go into the tens of thousands, we are so grateful to all the people who have donated so far."

To help Zach get the treatment he needs, visit the fundraiser here.