By Liam Miller @tweetLiam

Miniature man Nick Smith, 20, stands at just 35 INCHES tall - even though both his brothers are a whopping 6ft 5inches

Scroll down for the full story

Videographer / Director: Mike Garrod
Producer: Liam Miller
Editor: Ben Churcher

 

 
Nick Smith with younger brother Levi and older brother Travis at home in Jefferson, Georgia

He is one of only a handful of people worldwide - around 100 individuals - with the super-rare genetic condition called primordial dwarfism.

It means Nick, from Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the world's smallest men and only the size of a healthy three-year-old - even though he's well into adulthood.

Amazingly his two brothers Levi, 18, and Travis, 24, have heights that are well above average as they were not born with the disorder.

Even though Levi is the youngest of the three, he towers over tiny Nick, who has watched his 'little' brother outgrow him.

Levi said: "Even though he's much smaller than me, Nick is my older brother so I still look up to him."

Elder brother, Travis, said: "We always joke with Nick that Levi and I stole all the tall genes so that's why he's shorter. It's definitely ironic because the whole family's tall."

Dr. Andrew Jackson thinks Nick may be so much smaller than brothers Levi and Travis due to problems with his rate of cell division
The highs and lows of family life: Nick Smith with younger brother Levi
The long and short of it are that the brothers are great friends despite their vastly different heights

But being so small can come at a huge cost.

Of the 200 types of dwarves recorded by doctors, 'primordials' are the smallest. Nick, who has Osteodysplastic Primordial Dwarfism, Type II (MOPD II) weighs less than two stone.

Primordials can suffer with illnesses often associated with old age and their life expectancy is very short; many die before the age Nick is now.

In October 2013 doctors discovered Nick had a life-threatening aneurism - a bulge in an artery feeding blood to his brain.

"An aneurysm is like a ticking time-bomb'" said mum Shelly, 48, a travel agent. "It doesn't affect sufferers on a day-to-day basis but it's terrifying. You know that it could rupture at any second and if it does, that's it. It's not likely anyone would survive."

While surgeons battle to treat health problems suffered by primordial dwarves, scientists in Scotland and the USA have been trying to understand what causes the disorder in people like Nick.

Dr. Andrew Jackson, Medical and Developmental Geneticist at the Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, said: "We believe the disorder slows down cell division - making people like Nick so small."

Nick Smith sizes up one of his own miniscule shoes next to his brother's comparatively enormous trainer

An incredible new documentary follows Nick and his family as he undergoes surgery to try and repair his aneurysm in order to save him.

The film shows Nick being treated at Stanford University, California, in November 2013, using a high-tech technique called endovascular coiling.

Tiny loops of platinum are inserted inside the aneurysm, delivered by a coil pushed up into Nick's brain through his groin - a junction for blood vessels.

It's a race against time as Nick's loving family rush to give Nick the time of his life by fulfilling lots of his ambitions, like meeting his hero Spongebob Squarepants.

Shelly said: "Nick is the apple of my eye. He's such a happy person, loves Spongebob and charms everyone he meets.

"He's always break dancing and making people laugh.
"Even though he's small, his muscles are strong at 20 and he loves impressing the ladies with one-handed press ups.

"For me it's like a having a child who never really grew up, and that's a wonderful thing. What mother wouldn't enjoy that?
"Our big thing is that Nick is just like everybody else. In his mind, he's no different."