Brooke Greenberg, the child who never aged
Just recently I watched a documentary about a beautiful child who, since birth, battled with a disease so rare that the name of the condition was called Syndrome X. This inspiring child, named Brooke Megan Greenberg, was born in Baltimore, USA, on January 8, 1993 with a rare condition that even though she got older, she never aged past a toddler and always weighed approximately nine kilograms and was about 76 centimetres tall. Her mental age was about the same as a two-year-old, which fitted in with her frame and looks. She was the third daughter of four and her parents would treat her with unconditional love as would her other three sisters taking it in turns to care and nurture her. In fact, her oldest sister quit university to move back home and restart her studies at a closer location just to be close to Brooke. Never once did any of the family feel that it was a burden to have a special child like Brooke to care for.
In her first six years, Brooke went through a series of medical emergencies from which she recovered, often without explanation. She survived surgery for seven perforated stomach ulcers. She had a brain seizure followed by what was diagnosed as a stroke that, weeks later, had left no apparent damage.
At 4, she fell into a coma for 14 days. Then, doctors diagnosed a brain tumour, and the Greenbergs were told by the doctors she had only days to live. The family made all the painful funeral arrangements even buying a small white casket for Brooke. “We were preparing for our child to die,” Howard Greenberg, Brooke’s father said. “We were saying goodbye. And, then, we got a call that there was some change -- that Brooke had opened her eyes and she was fine. There was no tumour. She overcomes every obstacle that is thrown her way.” Once again Brooke defied the odds and approached her teenage years the same weight and size as she was as a toddler. The doctors had said she would be lucky to live for a few years, but now Brooke was approaching her 14th birthday. The documentary I watched was called Child Frozen In Time, a film about Brooke and what I took away from this very moving real life documentary was the immense love the whole family showed for each other. There was a section when Brooke’s parents talked about having discussed if Brooke outlived them, they would not be worried about someone caring for her as all three of her sisters said they would be honoured to take over as her carer - wonderful words indeed in this age of selfishness and self interest. Having survived her teenage years, Brooke now celebrated her 20th birthday. I am convinced that without the unconditional love Brooke gave and received from her family she would not have got this far. With her big 21st birthday around the corner Brooke’s three sisters and her mother were busy preparing for this celebration when tragedy struck. Brooke died on October 24, 2013, at the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital in Baltimore, the same hospital where she was born. The cause of death was from Bronchitis related causes. At the funeral service the rabbi who had known Brooke her entire life said she was happiest when she was with her three sisters, Emily, 26; Caitlin, 23; and Carly, 17. While the outside world may have noticed Brooke’s physical stature and been puzzled by her unique development state, she brought joy and love to her entire family. Her parents, three sisters and extended family showered her with love and respected her dignity, love and independence throughout her entire life. RIP Brooke Megan Greenberg, a unique individual who pulsated love. Edited by Naisa Koroi
Brooke gets unconditional love from her family.
20-year-old Brooke being cradled by her younger sister Carly, 17.