- I am who I am - (2013)
Southern Ecuador is home to about 100 of the world’s 300 people suffering from Laron syndrome, a genetic defect that prevents the normal functioning of growth hormone. Few of these people grow taller than 130 centimeters. According to scientists the mutation was carried to Ecuador about 500 years ago by Sephardic Jews, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition and finding new home in the Ecuadorian mountains. Inbreeding has guaranteed the syndrome’s continued existence. Quito’s Dr. Jaime Guevara-Aguirre started researching and discovered that these people might hold the key for longevity; the syndrome does not only block the growth hormone, but also makes them immun against cancer and diabetes. He started researching extensively on the people and promised to treat his patients with a new medicine. Therefore, in the 1960s dozens of people volunteered as test subjects for a long-term hormone therapy, in the hope that they would grow. An expensive medicine was developed, which is worldwide available, but it never made it to the Ecuadorian countryside. The affected families cannot afford the medicine themselves; treatment costs about 10,000 US dollars a month.