My co-worker faces a tough battle every day (outside of work). Her adorable daughter has mitochondrial disease, and I wanted to post some information about it. Historically I’ve worked with several people who have children with special needs and illnesses, and it is quite amazing to hear some of the stories and challenges they have to deal with. Their influences always keep me in a mode of gratitude and to help me keep in mind how fragile life is…that life is to be respected. You can read more about mito below.
Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body except red blood cells. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common.
Diseases of the mitochondria appear to cause the most damage to cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidney and the endocrine and respiratory systems.
Depending on which cells are affected, symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastro-intestinal disorders and swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual/hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection.