A brother and sister have been diagnosed with a terrible disease that will stop them from ever sleeping again, leading to their eventual deaths.
Hayley and Lachlan Webb from Queensland, Australia have both inherited a rare hereditary disease called Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI).
However, neither of the siblings know when the disease will strike, The Independent reports.
Those unfortunate enough to suffer from FFI lose the ability to achieve deep sleep, which leads to a quick, and ultimately fatal, mental and physical breakdown.
Nine News reports, Lachlan, 28, and Hayley, 30, became aware of the genetic disorder when they were teenagers and their grandmother became ill.
Ms Webb said:
In my early teens I remember becoming aware of it, aware we had this family curse.Advertisement
My grandma started getting sick and dying. Her eyesight went, she had signs of dementia, she was hallucinating and couldn’t talk.
Eventually she was diagnosed with FFI, that was the first time the family even knew that FFI existed.
FFI claimed the life of the siblings’ mother when she was 61, and their aunt died at 42. Their uncle also died from FFI when he was just 20-years-old.
The cruel genetic disorder damages nerve cells in the brain leading to sponge-like holes in the portion which regulates sleep – the thalamus.
The damage done to the thalamus prevents the body from rejuvenating and makes the sufferer feel like they’ve been awake for the last six months of their life.
FFI affects less than 10 million people worldwide and there is no known treatment or cure for the illness.
The pair have been participating in a pioneering study at the University of California led by Eric Minikel and Sonia Vallabah, who are trying to find a cure.