SISTERS born with a rare brain condition that halts their development weigh just three stone between them and are constantly mistaken for babies, according to their mum, The Sun reports. Claire and Lola Hartley suffer from microcephaly, a genetic disease that is associated with smallness of the head and incomplete brain development.
Even though the pair are nine and 14 years old, strangers often treat them like babies, with some making inappropriate comments about the girls’ size. “People forget that they’re nearly ten and 15 because they’re so small. Claire is 3ft tall and weighs 23lbs and Lola is 2ft and 12lbs,” says their mum, Gwen Hartley.
“Some people don’t understand and point, stare and make faces. They say, ‘They’re how old?’ “Others say, ‘Oh my gosh, can I hold her?’ and say how cute they are because I can hold them in my arms. “Some see them like they’re a religious experience, like they’re holy or angelic.”
The disorder means that the girls cannot walk or speak, suffer from visual impairment and daily seizures. When Claire was just three months old, her parents Gwen and Scott were told that due to her rare condition she probably wouldn’t make it to her first birthday. They were determined to give their daughter the best possible start in what could be a short life, so turned to natural remedies to build up her strength.
“We said that doctor doesn’t know her and how much she means to us. “We’d been told if we put her on drugs and tweak these until we had the right combo for her, we’d be lucky to get a year with her. So we decided to go home and try something more natural to see what happened.”
Claire’s parents provided her with a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and goats milk and gave her natural supplements to help her brain development and when she made it to her first birthday they threw a huge party for their miracle child. When Claire was four, Gwen fell pregnant with Lola who also inherited the rare condition but thanks to the same healthy diet as her sister she has grown and thrived.
Microcephaly is a congenital disorder that affects around 25,000 children in the US, where the Hartley girls are from. Despite their condition, Claire and Lola are just like any other girls their age and love to listen to rap music and watch TV with their big brother Cal, 17.
“Their brother, Cal, is really proud of them. He’s never said he’s sad that they are the way they are,” says Gwen. “When I was pregnant with Lola, and we weren’t sure if she’d survive, he said, ‘I don’t care if she lives long, I just want to know her, even for a little bit.”