A family in Michigan received heartbreaking news that their 4-month-old son Russell Cruzan III has been diagnosed with Mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome 13. Russell Cruzan III is suffering from the same rare genetic disorder that British infant Charlie Gard suffered from, just a different strain. Doctors have given him a dim prognosis and believe he won't make it to his 2nd birthday. Michelle Budnick- Nap, Russell's mother, and his father (Russell Cruzan II) have decided to fight for their son's life and want him to receive treatment. They hope that he will be able to help other children in the future who might be born with the rare genetic disorder.


Russell Cruzan III -- like Charlie Gard -- was born a healthy, normal baby, but soon after his birth, his parents noticed that something was wrong. Within a few weeks of birth, his parents noticed that he was not thriving or eating like he should and took him to the doctor, who then admitted him to Bronson Children's Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Hospital staff treated the baby's symptoms but never found out what was wrong with him. After a week in the hospital, his parents noticed he was having problems breathing and rushed him back to the hospital.

Russell was again admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, where he remained for a month. According to Russell Cruzan II and Michelle Budnick-Nap, doctors could not find out what was wrong with their son.

The baby endured test after test with no results in terms of what was causing baby Russell's health crisis. He was discharged from the hospital when the pneumonia cleared up and sent home again.

Once home the couple received a call from the hospital that the baby needed to come back. Baby Russell's lab work was not right and worrisome to his doctors.

It wasn't until the baby's kidney tests came back that they learned the devasting news that their son has Mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome 13 -- the same condition Charlie Gard recently died from. Charlie Gard suffered from MMDS and had the RRM2B strain. Like Charlie, Russell's parents were told there wasn't really anything that could be done for him.

Doctors asked them if they wanted to fight for their son's life or just let him die.

Russell's parents want him to receive treatment and have been in contact with one of the top physicians in the country on Mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome at Boston Children's Hospital in Massachusettes. Boston Children's Hospital has agreed to take Russell on as a patient but his parents have run into a problem with their medical insurance. The insurance company will not cover the treatment for their son. The baby's parents have begun fundraising to help cover medical costs.


Mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that causes the muscles and organs to stop functioning and eventually leads to death.

MMDS depletes the energy that muscles and organs need to properly develop. Limbs stop working, leaving the patient paralyzed, then organs begin to fail. Patients lose the ability to swallow and breathe, which causes death. Diagnosis of MMDS usually happens in infancy and children do not reach adulthood. Both parents unknowingly carry the gene that causes MMDS.