A man born without thighs because of a rare medical condition has found love with a woman he met on Facebook.
Nathan Hrdlicka – who is 1.37m (4ft 6in) tall – has been called a ‘midget’ but is now happy in a loving relationship with girlfriend Chelsee Stuart.
When 34-year-old Nathan, from Santa Fe, New Mexico, met 19-year-old Chelsee – who is at least a foot taller than him – online, she initially saw his height as a ‘problem’.
But then she fell in love with him and has seen past his disability.
The couple have revealed their height difference draws stares but people can see they are in love.
Nathan is one of just 25 people in the world born with tbilateral proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD) type D – which means his knee bones are directly beneath his hip bones.
Nathan Hrdlicka, from New Mexico, pictured with girlfriend Chelsee Stuart, is one of 25 in the world with PFFD
The 34-year-old – who is 1.37m (4ft 6in) tall – revealed he gets called a ‘midget’
Nathan says he is now happy in a loving relationship with Chelsee he see past his disability
WHAT IS PFFD?
Proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD) causes the end of the thigh bone – the femur – closest to the hip being too short or not completely developed.
In most cases, the hip joint is also poorly developed.
The typical appearance is an abnormally short thigh that is pulled upwards and rotated toward the outside.
The condition affect one or both legs.
The causes of PFFD are unknown, but it is known that it is not genetic.
It can sometimes be treated using limb lengthening techniques but often results in a deficiency that is too great, or a knee and hip that are too unstable, for limb lengthening to be successful.
The hip will often need to be stabilised by surgery.
Sometimes using a prosthetic is the only treatment option.
Source: STEPS charity
He is the only person with the disease who has been able to walk despite the challenges.
‘I don’t see myself as different,’ he said. ‘When people come up to me that’s the first thing they are seeing is my disability.
‘My disability is something that doesn’t define me.’
Nathan – who doctors said would have grown to be over 6ft 4in – says his condition brings him a lot of pain.
‘There’s only 25 people in the world with my condition. It makes me feel pretty unique,’ he said.
‘As far as I’ve been told I am the only one who has figured out how to walk.
‘I’m not really made to walk so everyday I choose to do that and it comes with a pay off.
‘I’m literally walking on the tips of bones so through out the day that eventually wears me out and brings pain on.’
Nathan said he can rarely go out for a walk without someone passing comment and a lot of people are curious about his appearance and some just ask him questions.
However, not everyone has nice things to say about his condition.
‘Some of the comments I get are people calling me a midget a lot, which is an uneducated thing,’ he said. ‘They also pick at the height thing.’
The couple met on a Facebook healing page and say they hit it off immediately
Chelsee admitted that at first she initially saw his height as a ‘problem’, being a foot taller
Nathan says that despite his disability – which causes him pain – he won’t let it hold him back
Then Nathan met Chelsee on Facebook on a healing page and they hit it off immediately – despite Chelsee’s initial problem with their height difference.
Chelsee said: ‘When we first met I did think the height difference was going to be a sort of problem because this was my first time really being with someone that shorter than me.
‘It took us a lot of time to really learn what works and what doesn’t work but eventually now everything works.’
But she says she has learnt to accept him for who he is – and the limitations of their relationship.
Nathan says Chelsee is a supportive partner who will do anything for him
The couple say their height difference draws stares but they don’t care
‘One of the biggest challenges that we faced together is I’m a super, super physical person,’ she explained.
‘I like to go hiking and exploring in the woods and so it would be awesome to do that with my best friend but since endurance is tough on him, he can’t really keep up.
‘I have to find other people to do those activities with.’
Nathan is clearly smitten and says Chelsee is a supportive partner.
‘Chelsee supports me emotionally as a friend in a way that I never had in my life,’ he said.
‘When I am sick she is there making sure there is everything she can do to make me feel better. Whether it is just to put a smile on my face or a glass of cold water. ‘
Strangers see our love
The couple say that they do get stares when they go out together, but that people can tell they are in love.
Chelsea said: ‘Some people are very curious and give us these looks like “What is going on” just because of our height difference and then a lot of people are drawn to us.
Nathan has found relief from his painful symptoms through holistic treatment
‘We both are very energetic and vibrant together, so people are more curious and they come up to us and ask questions.
‘They eventually see the love that we have in the friendship that we have.’
Holistic treatment helps
While there is no treatment or cure for his condition, Nathan uses holistic medicine to help him cope with his pain.
He explained: ‘This is the only true medical system that’s actually stood by me to try to find help that isn’t just medicine based.
‘This helped everything from my emotional state to being mentored at the centre. I’m trying to through, my own will and body, to find answers for healing and strength.’
The couple have started a campaign to try and raise $25,000 to cover Nathan’s medical costs
Nathan is pictured here as a toddler (left) and as a child with his sibling (right)
Nathan is not covered by insurance and no longer receives disability checks, so has started a Gofund Me campaign to try and raise $25,000 to cover medical costs.
The loving couple have started a jewellery business, and are planning on opening up a healing centre in Iceland to show people different kinds of holistic medicine that can be used for pain.
Nathan said: ‘My hope for the future is that I get this condition a little bit more under control.
‘I just really want to be able to help people. I want to be able to use my experiences and story to help people get through the hard times that they are having so that they can heal.’
Anyone who wants to donate to Nathan’s cause can do so here.