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Mystery Condition Makes Brothers Collapse at Sunset


Doctors in Pakistan are studying two brothers who seem in fine health during the day, but are unable to move when the sun goes down.

The school-age boys, 9-year-old Shoaib Ahmed and 13-year-old Abdul Rasheed, live near the city of Quetta. They have been called “solar kids” because of their condition.

Their father, Muhammad Hashim, says the boys lead a perfectly normal life during the day. But once the sun goes down, they go into a vegetative state. They are unable to walk, talk or even open their eyes.

“They can’t eat or drink, nor get up or lay down,” the father said. “But we are hopeful they will be okay by the grace of God,” he added.

A team of 38 doctors has performed hundreds of tests on the boys in an effort to identify the possible cause of their condition. Pakistan’s government is providing free medical care to their family.

Doctors have sent blood samples to researchers in other countries. They have also conducted tests on other family members. Researchers have gone to the boys’ village to collect soil and air samples.

Doctor Javed Akram is with Pakistan’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad. He said the nightly paralyzation of the boys remains a big mystery.

“What we have understood from research is that it happens when neurotransmitters in the brain suffer imbalance,” he said.

Dr. Akram’s team is currently working with doctors in five other countries to learn more about the condition. “They guide us a lot and we are moving forward together on this,” he said.

The boys’ father has a simple theory about what causes the condition. “I think my sons get energy from the sun,” he said.

But doctors have already ruled out the possibility that sunlight is responsible. They note that the boys can move normally during the day even when kept in a dark room or during a storm.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Muhammad Ishtiaq and Robert Raffaele reported on this story for VOANews. Bryan Lynn adapted their report for Learning English. The Associated Press provided additional material used in this story. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

solar – adj. relating to or determined by the sun

vegetative – adj. a state in which a person loses cognitive ability

grace – n. a virtue coming from god

conduct – v. to organize and carry out

sample – n. a small amount of something given for trying or testing

paralyzed – adj. when a person or part of the body is partly or fully not able to move

neurotransmitter – n. a substance in the body that carries a signal from one nerve cell to another

imbalance – n. a lack of proportion or relation between two things

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