SMILING youngster Adam Butterfield is lavished with love and presents as he reaches the grand old age of four.
The Peterlee boy has a condition so rare there are only 200 cases in the world.
But on it has been time to forget the problems and enjoy a party with cake and lots of family happiness.
Adam has Emanuel Syndrome, a chromosome abnormality affecting every cell in his body.
There are only 12 reported cases of the syndrome in the UK. Experts have told his parents Nicola McAllister, 36, and dad John Butterfield, 40, who have relatives in Hartlepool, that Adam could suffer from a string of health conditions including heart seizures, kidney failure, asphyxiation, and an inability to walk.
But the youngster is already defying the experts and could be able to walk within months after a recent operation.
Last week, his family gave him a special birthday where he was joined by the people closest to him.
Nicola, from the Acre Rigg area of Peterlee, said: “Adam had a great birthday. He went to nursery on the morning and they had a cake for him and the children helped him to blow out the candles which he loved.
“Family and friends called in on the afternoon and then we had a tea party. Adam was so happy and really excited. He now understands what presents are and had great fun opening them all. He loves being surrounded by people and is always smiling.
“I made him a Mickey Mouse cake as Mickey is his favourite toy at the moment and he loved it. We think he tried to blow out the candle too which is a first.
“He fell fast asleep at half six which was his way of telling us the party was over.
“He thoroughly enjoyed his birthday. It is great as he understands a lot more now what celebrations are and it was a joy to be able to share in that.
“We love him so much and are positive that his fourth year will bring many exciting developments for him.”
Adam will need care for the rest of his life. Some sufferers do not live beyond childhood, but others are known to have lived into their 60s.
John, a former Army Lance Corporal, previously admitted to the Mail his son’s health problems were harder for him to fight than the 10 years he spent in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq with the Royal Engineers between 1989 and 1999.
Adam arrived in the world eight days late at the University Hospital of Hartlepool weighing 8lb 2oz at 3.57am on Sunday, January 18, 2009