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Local 5-month-old boy fighting same disease that claimed life of Charlie Gard

Local 5-month-old boy fighting same disease that claimed life of Charlie Gard

A 5-month-old local boy is fighting the same, rare life-threatening disease that took the life of baby Charlie Gard in London, despite a court fight over acquiring experimental treatment.

Local doctors say baby Russel Cruzan III might not live to see his second birthday. But his parents aren't giving up the fight.

Baby Russell has mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. But his parents told Newschannel 3 that they're hopeful experimental treatments could save their baby.

Baby Russell is a happy little boy who likes to coo and grunt to his parents. A sweet boy with a lot of strength-it says so on his onesie.

“As many times as he's been poked as many times as he's been messed with, he just smiles and carries on like nothing ever happened," said his father, Russell Cruzan II.

His mother, Michelle Budnik-Nap, said, “He does, he'll cry for a couple minutes, then he's back to his little happy self."

Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome affects energy in his cells.

“Ultimately, it affects the major organs because the major organs require the most energy," Budnik-Nap said. "So right now he's dealing with some kidney problems, some liver problems, heart problems, definitely some muscle weakness, although we're definitely working on getting that fixed."

His parents say 50 percent of children with the rare disease don't make it to age 2.

“When we came in to get the diagnosis they just said there's no treatment, there's no cure. We would encourage you to take Russell home and enjoy the time that you have with him,” Budnik-Nab, said.

They plan on doing that, but his parents also say they're working to get him experimental treatment from a doctor in Boston willing to help.

“It's time to fight we're not taking no for an answer,” Budnik-Nab, said.

And in their fight, it's Russell’s strength they say will help them live his life to the fullest.

“Happy and healthy as possible for as long as possible. And when that's not possible any longer we hope that we have done something to help other children with his condition,” Michelle said.

Next week, the family will see a neurologist to check how Russell's brain is doing.

They're planning a golf outing and spaghetti dinner to help fund treatments, travels, and lodging as they work to save their child. They've also started a crowdfunding page to help with some of the expenses.

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