Nathan’s Story

Nathan Salacup

Meet Nathan Salacup, born January 18th, 2006. Nathan was generally a healthy baby but, his parents noticed that he wasn’t as active as most babies his age. He started walking late at age 2, wouldn’t play when they would go to the park, and always wanted to be held. His parents were first told they babied him too much, but then they noticed his gate was off and he walked with a waddle. After bringing him to his pediatrician again and expressing their concerns, Nathan was referred to an orthopedic doctor. This new doctor took x-rays and said Nathan’s tibias were bowed and that he would probably grow out of it. Nathan went to see this doctor every 6 months for two and a half years and at age 5 the doctor told his mother, “Nathan needs surgery to fix his legs.” His parents knew something was not right! Why was Nathan so weak? They decided to go back to his pediatrician and were then referred to a pediatric neurologist.

The new neurologist took one look at Nathan and told his parents he had Duchene Muscular Dystrophy. In one sentence, this doctor shattered their lives. They needed a second opinion…if the last doctor was wrong, this one could be too and they searched for help at Children’s Hospital. It was at Children’s that they found a doctor who did a muscle biopsy and found out it was a Mitochondrial Disease. He is the only child known to have his type of Mito, so while this presented more questions, it also provided hope. They knew their lives and his life would never be the same. However, they finally had some answers to why their son was so weak and could help give him the best shot at fighting this unpredictable and misunderstood disease.

Nathan is now 11 years old. He brings the most joy to everyone he meets. His smile is contagious and he would do anything to make you laugh. He is a ham who loves to perform and do concerts for his family. His body struggles every day to get the energy he needs to do simple things that all boys his age do; walk, run, throw a football, play with friends, and even finish homework. Fortunately, Nate has responded well to the “Mito Cocktail” of recommended vitamins. He is a fighter and works very hard to stay mobile, eat healthy, and engages in light exercise. With those things combined, he can reach his best potential and limit interventions. On the other hand, when Nate pushes himself too far, he suffers from lactic acidosis, which gives him headaches and causes him to vomit. To avoid the damage this does to his body, he uses a power scooter to conserve his energy. Nathan should be able to have the energy to do what he wants; he should not have to worry about his next doctor appointment or his heart starting to fail. His family and friends hate to see him suffer so they pray and fight for a cure to be found. His parents would do anything to help their loving boy.