A Life Without Pain - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/11/05

A Life Without Pain

"When she was six months old we realized her eye was really red," says Tara Blocker, Ashlyn's mom. "Doctors thought it was just an eye infection, but there was something they did not know. She had a massive corneal abrasion on her left eye. Anybody in their right mind would be brought to their knees over such a disorder."

But Ashlyn never cried. It took two months of testing before doctors unlocked the secret to what was wrong with the eight-month-old's eye and what was wrong with Ashlyn. It was more than just an infection. "She has a rare disorder called congenital insensitivity to pain," says Tara.

Ashlyn feels absolutely no pain. When she dug a hole in her eye, she didn't even know she was hurt. In five years, she's rubbed her nose raw a number of times. She's chewed right through her lip. She's knocked out eight teeth and never felt a thing.

"At one point we were considering having her teeth removed since she was doing so much damage to her mouth, tongue, hands and fingers," says Tara.

She also severely burned her hand. "She stuck her hand on a muffler. Her whole hand, puss, bubble, blistered every finger tip. She didn't care," says John Blocker, Ashlyn's dad.

"I would give my right arm for her to feel pain. Pain is there for a reason," says Tara.

Ashlyn looks like your typical five-year-old. Except she is one in six billion. She knows she's different than everybody else. "I can't feel my boo boos," says Ashlyn.

Dr. Roland Staud, of the University of Florida, knows the odds. For seven years he's studied the pain-free world and he's had to study without a patient.

"We have only heard about these children. They are so rare, there was nobody in this area we could study," says Dr. Staud.

That is until now. Staud says he knows of only 50 cases in the entire world. "They can feel touch, warmth, they can feel vibration but they can not feel pain," says Dr. Staud.

Ashlyn can break a bone or be sick and never know to tell mom and dad. The only way they know something is wrong is if she slows down. "She slows down a little bit because she won't be at 100 miles per hour and then we know to look, ok what's going on," says Tara.

Ashlyn's dream is to be a ballerina, but it's one she'll never know. "She loves to dance, but we can't put her in classes because it's bad for her joints," says Tara.

So now her dream is to be a doctor so she can help others, maybe even put all the pieces of the puzzle together about her pain free world.

"She's my little piece of heaven. She inspires me to do my best for her," says Tara.

Pain, she will never experience, but Ashlyn does feel one thing every single day. "My mommy and daddy loves me," says Ashlyn.

And for her, that is all that really matters.

Ashlyn's disorder is caused by a mutated gene. Both Ashlyn's parents have it, which means there is a 25 percent chance their kids will develop the disorder. Ashlyn's older brother and younger sister have been tested and they are fine.

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