School boy realises bee keeping dream

A primary school boy is realising his dream of becoming a bee keeper following his participation in an international drug trial at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

Samuel Gray has achondroplasia, a rare genetic condition which causes dwarfism. It particularly affects the growth and development of long bones in thighs and upper arms.

Around one in 25,000 people are born with achondroplasia.

While it leads to short stature, it can also cause health complications such as spinal cord compression, sleep apnoea, bowed legs, a curved lower spine, ear infections and breathing problems, all of which often require invasive surgery to treat.

Evelina London is a specialist centre for children with achondroplasia and nine-year-old Samuel is one of 10 children at the hospital who have taken part in the global trial of the drug vosoritide, to see if it could help bone growth by comparing it with a placebo.

In a paper recently published in medical journal The Lancet, the study’s authors found the drug was an effective treatment to increase the growth rate in children with achondroplasia.

Samuel’s mum Kristina said that since he started taking the drug in January 2018, he has grown 50 per cent faster than expected for a child of his age with achondroplasia, and is now enjoying running his own bee hive and playing football.

Mum-of-four Kristina said: “At the beginning, we didn’t know if Samuel was on the placebo or the actual drug. We knew it might not help our son, but the research might benefit the next generation of children.

“We joined the trial not so much for Samuel’s growth as for the potential health benefits – we wanted to help Samuel in his future in any way we could.

“Unlike some children with achondroplasia, Samuel’s legs are straight. He is strong, has great stamina and is very healthy.

“Previously, I wouldn’t need to buy Samuel new clothes because he didn’t really grow out of them. Now I have to buy him trousers more frequently and his shoe size is getting bigger.

“Samuel’s limbs are straight, his hands and feet are bigger, he has great stamina and he is a healthy young man.”

Samuel has twin 12-year-old sisters and a six-year-old younger sister, and is an avid bee-keeper after getting a hive and bees for his ninth birthday.

He also enjoys playing football with his friends and being outdoors.

Pictured top, and inset, Samuel Gray


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