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The Curious Case of a Boy Who Stops Breathing Every Time He Falls Asleep

Liam Derbyshire was born with a very rare congenital disease that causes him to stop breathing every time he falls asleep. Doctors told his parents that he wouldn’t live past six weeks, but the boy has defied the odds and will soon turn 18-years-old.

Liam suffers from a condition known as central hypoventilation, or “Ondine’s Curse”, after a nymph from French folk stories. Ondine fell in love with a man called Palemon, and at their wedding, he vowed to love her with his every breath. So when the nymph later discovered his infidelity, she cursed him: “You pledged faithfulness to me with your every waking breath and I accepted that pledge. So be it. For as long as you are awake, you shall breathe. But should you ever fall into sleep, that breath will desert you.” Totally normal stuff for a folk tale, but a similar curse actually exists in real life.

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