KARACHI: When doctors told Furqan bin Imran five years ago that he had an “incurable” genetic bone disease, the diagnosis explained a life of seemingly inexplicable injuries.
Now that the disease had a name – a skeletal abnormality called pycnodysostosis – Imran was determined to fight it.
And he fought it, becoming a fitness trainer, bodybuilder, and YouTuber.
“The news came as a shock to me,” the 21-year-old told Arab News on Monday. “I had already suffered from the disease for 16 years and was trapped in a difficult phase of my life.”
That year alone, Imran had gone to hospital for treatment for his eleventh fracture – the first occurred in 2005, when he was only six years old.
Dr Salman Kirmani, consultant medical geneticist and pediatric endocrinologist at Aga Khan University in Karachi, ultimately determined that Imran suffered from pycnodysostosis, a rare condition that affects about one in two live births.
“No one really knows how common this is in Pakistan,” Kirmani said. “But given that we have a lot of intermarriages, and it’s an autosomal recessive disease, it’s entirely possible that we have a higher incidence.”
Since there is no specific medical treatment for the disorder, the doctor said patients were advised to be careful and avoid strenuous activities that could lead to fractures and other injuries.
However, Imran had other ideas and immediately began to follow a daily regimen of moderate and controlled exercise, along with a healthy diet. He had one goal: to transform his body through fitness and weight training.
“My doctors told me it was a risk,” he said. “I totally ignored the advice and transformed into lifting heavy weights.”
It wasn’t easy, Imran said, describing how the initial training made her “bend her spine back” and gave her a “electric shock” feeling going through every inch of her body.
“But I didn’t give up.”
His doctor said Imran’s achievements were unprecedented.
“Such a training regimen and an improvement in bone strength have never been reported before in cases of pycnodysostosis,” Kirmani said. “Over the years, he has built his muscle mass to such an extent that he doesn’t have any fractures.”
The doctor said Imran was an inspiration to others facing debilitating illnesses, but warned people not to do “anything that is dangerous or counterproductive to their health” while trying to imitate the achievements of the bodybuilder.
“Never give up – whatever your weaknesses are, turn them into strengths,” Imran said. “Everything is related with your mind because Allah has built our mind in a beautiful way. If your mind is strong enough to endure all the circumstances in your life, you will be able to heal any disease.
Imran added with a smile: “Now when I see myself in this phase of my life, I feel like I’m out of this world. I feel like a superman who can take over the world with his power.