Damien and his twin brother Isaac are always on the go. Like most four-year-olds, they both love running around and playing.
The only difference is that Damien always has an oxygen pump standing by at home or in the car, in case he becomes too breathless. Damien has pulmonary hypertension.
The boys are fraternal, not identical, twins. Damien was born with Down’s syndrome – a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome in the body’s cells. About 750 babies are born with Down’s in the UK every year. It is not a disease or health problem in itself, but, some health problemscan be more common in people with Down’s, including heart and lung conditions.
“When Damien was born, he was very sick,” says his Dad, Mesaque. “For that reason, he was screened and tested forhealth problems at Great Ormond Street Hospital when he was just five or six months old. He was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension then.”
Mesaque and Damien’s Mum Helena try hard to keep family life running along safely andhappily in their West London home.
“He is a very active boy and we are very proud of the way he is growing,” says Mesaque.“He loves computer games and strumming on the guitar. We have a lot of support for Damien and he is doing very well.”
Damien has been on lots of medication as a baby, but does not have to take anything other than oxygen at the moment. His parents take him for regular check-ups at Great Ormond Street to monitor his condition. They know it’s not going to go away;they may well have to consider more medication and therapies in the future.
“We get all the information we canso we know what to do when we have to make any decisions about Damien’s care. It is very good to talk to other families. Going to PHA UK conferences and family weekends is very good for that. Damien loves to play with other kids who have same health problem as him – see their oxygen and so on.”