Two brothers have come to be known as the "solar kids," in a case that has completely mystified Pakistani doctors. Aged 9 and 13, the boys are normal active children during the day. But once the sun goes down, they both lapse into a vegetative state—unable to move or talk or eat. Javed Akram, a professor of medicine at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, tells the AP he has no idea what is causing the symptoms. Akram says the government is providing free medical care to the siblings, who come from an impoverished family. The brothers are undergoing extensive medical testing and samples of their blood have been sent to overseas specialists. Researchers are also collecting soil and air samples from the family's village.
Mohammad Hashim, the father of the two brothers, and his wife are first cousins and two of their six children died at an early age. Their other two children have not displayed any unusual symptoms. His simple theory: "I think my sons get energy from sun." But doctors have already dismissed the idea that sunlight plays a role, noting that the boys can move during the day even when kept in a dark room or during a rainstorm. During the day, Shoaib Ahmed and younger brother Abdul Rasheed did indeed seem normally active, energetic, and cheerful as they emerged from their hospital room on Friday and walked to a nearby canteen to have tea. "I will become a teacher," Shoaib Ahmed says. His younger brother says he wants to be an Islamic scholar. (Just one family on the planet suffers from this mystery disease.)