Can you imagine never being able to sleep, thus denying your body and brain the chance to rejuvenate? It’s a scary thought, but sadly it’s what sufferers of a rare condition known as Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI) have to go through until it eventually kills them. This mysterious genetic disease affects less than one in 10 million people worldwide and has no treatment or cure.
According to a BBC report, Fatal Familial Insomina is almost unheard of because most families who carry the gene have chosen to remain silent about it. It makes sense, given that most people might not want their children to know about the cruel fate that awaits them. There’s no way to predict when or which family members FFI will strike, and since there’s no cure, they tend to avoid talking about it for fear of tempting fate.
In recent times, however, a few families have chosen to open up about the illness that has plagued their genealogical tree. Like that of Silvano, a Venetian man who lost his father and two sisters to the fatal illness and succumbed to it himself in the 1980s, at age 53. But he left his brain to science in the hope that doctors might discover more about the condition. The family’s story became the subject of the book The Family Who Couldn’t Sleep, written by DT Max, who managed to trace the disease back to a Venetian doctor in the late 18th century.